The former Serbian paramilitary testifies in the trial about the Serbian war massacres in Kosovo
The member of the Serbian paramilitary unit “Jackals”, Zoran Raskovic, has stated in the High Court of Belgrade that one of the defendants in the case of war crimes in four villages of Kosovo in the spring of 1999, was present during the shooting of a group Albanian civilians.
Predrag “Madzo” Vukovic was among the group of Serbian fighters who kidnapped and killed a group of Albanian civilians captured in the village of Qushk in Kosovo in May 1999, his fellow fighter, Zoran Raskovic, said, adding, however, that he did not see Vukovic shooting someone.
Raskovic told the High Court of Belgrade that Vukovic had come to his unit after other crimes committed in the village of Lubenic and that he remembered Vukovic “entering into action with us”.
Raskovic said that Vukovic, along with two other fighters, Ranko Momic and Nikolic Milojko “Sumadija”, took the group of about 15 or 20 people to an unfinished house in the village and shot them dead.
“He was in the group that led up to the shooting; Momiq Ranko led and organized it; I heard the shots, I saw Ranko, ‘Sumadija'”, said Raskovic.
“I heard shots, [por] whether from one, two or three guns, I don’t know”, added Raskovic, explaining that he did not see Vukovic shooting.
Vuković is one of 11 former members of Unit 177 of the Yugoslav Army who are on trial for committing war crimes in the villages of Zahaq, Qyshk, Pavlan and Lubenić in May 1999 in western Kosovo. The indictment claims that they killed at least 118 Albanians.
He was arrested in 2018 and appeared in court for the first time in November 2019. He is accused of crimes in the villages of Ljubenic and Qyshk.
Raskovic, a former member of a Serbian paramilitary unit known as the Jackals, one of the prosecution’s main witnesses, this time testified in Vukovic’s defense.
He was interviewed for a BIRN documentary investigating the commanders behind the 1999 massacres in Kosovo.
The High Court in Belgrade spent a year trying to get Raskovic to testify after he was in prison in Germany. At Friday’s hearing, Raskovic was present in court, however, as he was extradited from Germany in connection with another criminal proceeding in Serbia.
At a hearing in November 2015, Raskovic told the court that his fellow troops executed more than 60 men in the Kosovo village of Lubeniq on April 1, 1999, and he had spoken about the crimes in Qyshk in 2011.
It was originally planned that Raskovic would testify under a code name to hide his identity, but for the first time in the history of the Serbian court, a protected witness decided to testify publicly, in order to, as he said, “show his the truth about the horrors in Kosovo”.
On Friday, Raskovic asked Belgrade’s High Court to reinstate his protected witness status, claiming he had received death threats against his family if he continued to testify.
Defense lawyers contested this, claiming he is lying and trying to manipulate the court. BalkanInsight/