An unpleasant anecdote from 1999

Via the invaluable B92 website comes a nasty little story from Albania.

In her book, “The Hunt”, to be published in Italy on April 3, the former Hague Tribunal Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte states that, during investigations into war crimes committed by the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, against Serbs and other non-Albanians, the prosecutor’s office was informed that persons who disappeared during the Kosovo conflict were used in organ smuggling operations.

Yah, that’s right. Organ smuggling.

More below the cut.

First thing is, understand that this is all hearsay. There’s no evidence; it’s del Ponte’s recollection of what people told her some years back, plus what her investigators found when she looked into it.

That said, here’s the story:

The office obtained information that UNMIK investigators and officials had received from groups of so-called reliable journalists, according to whom, Kosovo Albanians had transferred 300 Serb and other non-Albanian hostages in trucks to northern Albania in the summer of 1999.

Those prisoners were first imprisoned in camps in places like Kukes and Tropoje.

According to journalist sources, the younger and fitter prisoners were examined by doctors, got food and were not beaten. After that, they were kept in custody in other centers in Burel and the surrounding area.

One group was held in barracks behind a yellow house some twenty kilometers to the south of that town, states the former prosecutor.

One room in that yellow house, according to the journalists, served as an operation room where doctors extracted prisoners’ organs.

Afterwards, the organs, according to the sources, were sent abroad from Rinas airport near Tirana where they were used in transplantations for patients who had paid for it.

Daily Večerenje Novosti brings more details from the book, which says that the Hague and UNMIK investigators, and several journalist, along with an Albanian prosecutor, made a trip to the yellow house in 2003.

“It was now white,” Del Ponte writes. “Despite the fact that investigators discovered traces of yellow paint on it, the owner denied it was ever repainted.”

In its vicinity, investigators also found pieces of gauze, used syringes, two plastic IV solution bags, “petrified in mud”, empty medicine bottles, including muscle relaxants used during surgeries.

Inside the house itself, forensics discovered traces of blood on the walls and on the floor in one of the rooms. A section of the floor, sized 180 by 60 centimeters, was clean.

“The owner of the house offered a series of explanations to the investigators when it came to the origin of the blood traces. First, he said that his wife gave birth in that room many years ago. But when the wife made her statement and said that all their children were born elsewhere, he claimed that his family used the room to slaughter animals in order to celebrate a Muslim holiday,” Del Ponte writes.

As for the Albanian prosecutor who accompanied them, the former chief Hague prosecutor says he at one point bragged he had cousins who were KLA members.

“There are no graves of Serbs here,” the Albanian official said. “But, if they took the Serbs from the Kosovo border and killed them, they did the right thing”.

Describing detailed information she has on the matter, Del Ponte writes that detectives had had to give up on this case because further investigation had proved “impossible”.

If you check out the story at B92, you’ll find a 100+ comment thread with Serbs and Albanians screaming at each other. (I wonder if there’s a forum where Serbs and Albanians go for friendly, low-key chat with each other. I haven’t seen it.)

The Serbs have bought this story wholesale. No surprise; it punches about six different buttons all at once. (Serbs as victims; Serbs in mass graves; Albanians as monsters; Albanians involved with smuggling; Albanians involved in stuff that’s creepy and bizarre; Albania as a nightmare land where horrors happen; the KLA as organized crime. I’ve probably missed a couple.) Not just the Serbs on B92, either — this was front page news in the Belgrade dailies. A lot of people in Serbia really want to believe this story.

Okay, then. How believable is it?

Not very.

One, “300 Serbs” is more than half of all the Serbs unaccounted for from all of Kosovo. Depending on who you talk to, the number of Serbs who went missing in 1999 is between 200 and 400. So, for this story to be true, you’d have to figure most or all the missing the Serbs ended up in this one place.

Two, you’d also have to figure that the Albanians managed to keep this a deep secret ever after. This seems unlikely. The Serbs killed hundreds of Albanians in 1998-9 and then went to great lengths to dispose of the bodies — dumping them into the Danube in freezer trucks, tipping them into industrial incinerators. Nevertheless, despite the best efforts of the Milosevic government (and the sullen disinterest of certain governments since), the story came out. To believe this happened — hundreds of Serbs brought into Albania and kept in multiple camps, some or all of them dissected, and then all killed without a single survivor telling the tale — happened and then was kept secret ever since, you’d have to believe the Albanians are more competent and organized than the Serbs. I mean no disrespect to the Albanians when I say this seems unlikely.

Three, Albania seems to be missing a mass grave. Disposing of 300 bodies — about 15 tons of human remains — is no small thing. (As the Serbs and others discovered in the 1990s.)

Four, the story pretty much requires the Albanian government to be complicit. This is unlikely.

Successive Albanian governments had a complicated, love-hate relationship with the Kosovo Liberation Army. They wanted Kosovo out from under Belgrade, but they didn’t want a major war with hundreds of thousands of refugees (a reasonable fear, since that’s exactly what they ended up getting) and they didn’t want a lot of heavily armed guerrillas running around Albania getting up to God knows what. The Berisha administration kept the KLA on a very short leash in Albania, including throwing a number of its leaders in jail for up to a couple of months at a time — just to get the point across. Things loosened up somewhat after Berisha was forced out of office in 1997, but no Albanian government was going to let the KLA run a concentration camp on their turf.

Five, organ-legging is… well, let’s say it’s also pretty unlikely. Albania has a pretty primitive medical infrastructure even today. In 1999 it was much worse. Now, in theory you wouldn’t need much to get organs out of someone: a good doctor, a couple of assistants, and some basic equipment would do it. The problem is, once you have the organs out the clock starts ticking. Some bits keep better than others — corneas can last for days — but for kidneys, lungs or a heart you’re talking less than 24 hours, even with freezing and preservatives, before it’s just so much bad meat. This is why organlegging isn’t a major threat around the world. Good fresh organs are worth a lot, and there are probably plenty of evil people who’d be willing to kidnap folks and cut them up. But it’s that last leg that’s the kicker.

In developed countries, there’s a whole infrastructure for moving fresh organs around fast fast fast. In Albania… umm.

I note in passing that Burel — where this supposedly happened — is the middle of nowhere, a couple of hours up a bad mountain road. (Not that Albania has a lot of good mountain roads, but you get the idea.)

Okay, so the story is pretty unlikely. But on the other hand, del Ponte’s people did find… something. A house that had been repainted; a homeowner engaged in obvious lies; blood traces and medical supplies. (N.B., while I disagree sharply with Carla del Ponte about a lot of things, and have a low opinion of her judgment generally, I don’t think she lies much. So I’m willing to believe that the facts were as she describes them.) So what was going on there?

I don’t know, and I doubt we ever will. But I can make a couple of guesses.

One, it was a KLA field hospital. Burel isn’t far from the border. The KLA was in Albania in force around this time; the closest thing to a pitched battle that they fought was along the Albanian border, against JNA, the Serb/Yugoslav army. Wounded KLA guerrillas were carried (literally) back up the mountains and over the border. If the yellow house was being used to treat KLA fighters, that would explain the blood, the medical supplies, and possibly the owner’s reticence as well.

That’s the most benign explanation. A less pleasant one is that it was a KLA torture center, where Serbs (and possibly some troublesome Kosovar Albanians — the KLA liquidated a number of “collaborators”) were taken to be dealt with. I think this is less likely, but only because it’s hard to see why they’d drag people over the mountains into Albania — there was a war on, and they were perfectly capable of doing torture and interrogation fast and in the field. But I think it’s a possibility. Long time readers of this blog know I support Kosovar independence, but that doesn’t mean I think the KLA were a bunch of Boy Scouts.

The long and the short of it is, we’ll probably never know. We can say with pretty high confidence that the story of “300 Serbs” being held “so that their organs could be sold” is probably bullshit, but that doesn’t mean we’ll ever know the truth.

And in a way it doesn’t matter. The story has already entered Serbia’s mass consciousness; a large minority of Serbs have completely accepted it, and many more are at least affected by it. (Well, surely something horrible happened there…) The already poisonous atmosphere has become some small bit more envenomed.

One interesting loose end is what Carla del Ponte thought she was doing by telling this story. But, as noted, I have a pretty low opinion of her judgment. So I’m not really inclined to guess.

Okay, I think I need to post something about the Balkans that’s upbeat and cheerful now. Hmm.

27 thoughts on “An unpleasant anecdote from 1999

  1. Well, we all know that there was mass genocide and ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. That entered the Western consciousness. We all know that death camps were run in Bosnia. That also entered the Western consciousness. Let’s not forget rape as a weapon of war. We know this all to be true because our Western governments and media have been telling us this for years and they will never admit they are wrong. But it’s not brainwashing because it’s our media and our countries.

    The Serbs, on the other hand, are brainwashing their people with implausible tales like the organ one, aren’t they, because they are EVIL! It’s in their blood! They are doing it to whip their people in a frenzy of hatred. Are our media doing this to our people? Never! They would never do such a thing…

    Remember “human blood banks”?; the Nato announced on 20 April 1999 that the “Serbs” were using Albanians as “human blood banks”; the only reason that hasn’t taken its place next to “death camps” and “rape rooms” is because the Columbine Massacre happened that same day…

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  3. R,

    So you are saying Srebenica never happened? That there weren’t concentration camps run by Serbs in Bosnia? The disposal of Kosovar Albanians in mass graves in Serbia is a known historical fact.

    Serbs desperately want to believe in their own purity and innocence. Since that is impossible, the only refuge is in believing that their enemies are worse than they were. That’s the only thing they have left. Sad.

  4. Well according to what I read (obviously I can’t say for sure) some 500 Serbs went missing in that period but I can say that rumours of this type had been going round for some time. Of course I dismissed them, as it sounds like some kind of horror propoganda fit for the gutter press.
    But when Del Ponte brought it up in her book – and I think it has to be said that she ‘created’ this story, it made me wonder. I can’t understand why she would make up such a story. In fact I don’t believe that she would make up the fact that she visited Albania and was led to believe that organ smuggling may have happened.
    Maybe Doug your first theory is possible. Certainly something suspect was going on and Del Ponte picked up on it.

    I think we have a responsibility to get to the bottom of this for the families of the disappeared. Albania should be leaned on to investigate (because I have more faith in the Albanian authorities than with Kosovo authorities) and I hope that a Serbian investigation could be carried through. Serbian war crimes prosecutor Vukicevic said that Del Ponte could be called to be questioned if such an investigation took place, or if charges were brought.

    This isn’t about Serbian desire to believe that they were victims. And it is not about discrediting Kosovo independence, it is about trying to find out what happened to victims. People should be allowed to bury their dead, until they do, they are still living the war.

  5. First of all it seems that almost everyone that comments on this has not read Carla’s book, because …. it hasn’t come out yet. We don’t even know how Carla phrased it, the context in the book etc etc. It would seem like a rather good incentive for Serbs to read the book, given that the Serbian govt wanted the book banished.
    And then, Carla had some info, did some preliminary investigation and then didn’t go any further. The big question is, why? If the story was credible, certainly Carla would’ve followed up on it. Rumors without investigation only serve as fodder for propaganda.

  6. @bganon,

    Yes, a number of Serbs went missing. Some were very probably killed. Others are probably still in Serbia, or abroad — there are always some people who are happy to walk away from their past. (Criminal record? What criminal record?) All the large refugee flows in the former YU — Croats out of Vojvodina, Serbs out of Krajina and Kosovo, everybody out of Bosnia — produced large numbers of missing people. I’m sure that an Albanian poster will pop up in a momen to point out that over a thousand Albanians are still missing from Kosovo.

    But even if they were all killed, it’s very unlikely that all of them, from all of Kosovo, were killed in one place. Again, this assumes (1) a very high degree of competence on the part of the KLA (getting a lot of people through lines in the middle of a war) and (2) the ability of dozens, if not hundreds of Albanians to mutually keep a secret for years and years. It’s not very convincing.

    Again, this is not to say that everything is wonderful. It’s quite possible that something horrible happened at that yellow house. It’s just not very likely that hundreds of Serbs were kept nearby while many were killed for their organs.

    @Crni: Note that it’s not clear if del Ponte herself went to Albania. my understanding is that she sent investigators. But I could be wrong; as noted, I’m working off of quotes at second hand.

    I don’t think her description makes the story inherently more or less plausible. As I said in the post, I don’t think she lies much, but I don’t have a high opinion of her judgment, and I can’t begin to guess what she was thinking by putting this in her book.

    @bganon again, people should be allowed to bury their dead, yes, and I agree that an investigation is a reasonable response. But I very much doubt it will produce anything, even if the Albanians cooperate.

    Doug M.

  7. bganon,

    I’ll believe this is about finding what happens to victims when Serbia starts putting more effort into finding out what happened to all the Kosovar Albanians in the war. It seems to me that symmetrical investigations are required here, but I’m not hopeful of that happening, because the level of mistrust is so great.

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  9. Doug,
    Excellent post! Makes you wonder about the intelligence of journalists when they swallow such stories wholeheartedly when even some simple research should set their alarm bells ringing.

    Sadly, it seems to have happened quite a lot in the Balkan wars. Remember the “1,000,000 Kosovo Albanians” and “200,000” Bosnians killed by the Serbs? Or the “60,000” Bosniak women systematically raped, etc.

    I guess it’s inherent in the media system – only the juiciest stories sell…

  10. Oscar, a couple of years back I noted that most of these stories went through three phases:

    1) Initial sensational phase: Serbs killed hundreds of thousands of Albanians in Kosovo! Often used during war, or to justify war.

    2) Debunking phase: can’t find mass graves in Kosovo! This leads many people to conclude that Serbs killed no Albanians, or very few. (Substitute to taste: Serbs killing Croats, Croats killing Serbs, Albanians killing Serbs, everyone killing Roma, etc. etc.)

    A lot of people get stuck at #2. Thus, for instance, one finds lots of people on the western left saying that “hardly any Albanians were killed by Milosevic”.

    3) Gradual uncovery of the more-or-less truth. This takes a while, but after a few years there’s usually a pretty good idea how many people died or disappeared, and in what ways.

    The biggest example: the total number of people killed in the Yugoslav wars. For a long time this was “hundreds of thousands”, then “200,000”. Then people were saying, no, it was “only a few thousands”. Today we have a pretty good idea; it was around 95,000, give or take.

    Similarly, brief digging will give you pretty good numbers for “number of Serbs killed or missing during Operation Storm” or “numbers of Albanians killed or missing during the 1999 conflicts”.

    But you have to dig a little, because by the time we reach #3, most people have wandered off and lost interest. Even the nationalists… no, especially the nationalists; they’re usually locked on #1 or #2, whichever suits their side best.

    Doug M.

  11. “The Serbs, on the other hand, are brainwashing their people with implausible tales like the organ one, aren’t they, because they are EVIL! It’s in their blood! They are doing it to whip their people in a frenzy of hatred. Are our media doing this to our people? Never! They would never do such a thing…”

    With respect, before the Yugoslav wars I seriously doubt that many people in the West knew much about the Serbs as a population distinct from the Yugoslavs, never mind had prejudices against Serbs. That, unfortunately, can’t be said about the Serb position on Albanians.

    More to the point, while the most extreme arguments were generally false, plenty of evidence supports the contention that the views of Serb nationalists on gender and sexuality were rather crazy, from Plavsic’s speculations about the genetic defects among Bosnian Muslims to the borderline misogyny that Serbian nationalists tried to institutionalize in Serbia proper. If Serbian politicians were talking about using political measures to push down the fertility of Albanian women while the Church was blaming Serbian women for not bearing enough boys soldiers to fight Serbia’s wars, something was clearly off. Enough for rape camps? Why not?

  12. Doug M,

    My understanding is that a total of 95,000 people died in the various conflicts surrounding the breakup of Yugoslavia, all ethnic groups confounded. Do we have an idea of the breakdown by ethnic group of those killed?

  13. Doug,

    I don’t agree completely with you. I actually find most people get stuck on #1. The interested persons make it to #3 pretty quickly. Those who get stuck on #2 usually have an agenda to begin with (ie nationalists or ideologically driven persons).

    The big problem is that a lot of journalists and politicians, who should know better, never make it beyond #1.

    Just proves that history is best written with at least a decade (probably more) of perspective from the event.

  14. Doug that the Serbs should have the right to bury their dead does not exclude the Kosovo Albanians from this right. I know you don’t think that, but this kind of reasoning should be exposed as ridiculous (if an Albanian, Serb or anybody else infers it). Its the principle not the ethnicity or nationality of victims.
    And of course a small number of people wander off never to return – that is realistic, although if a Serb says this might be the case for a small number of Srebrenica missing, he might be ‘stoned’ for nationalistic war crimes denial.

    Yes I hope that the Serbian government can be more helpful in investigating / identifying Albanian dead, although don’t hold your breath if its a SRS / DSS government.

    As I hinted I have little confidence in Kosovo authorities in being of assistance here. Obviously certain parties might find it incriminating were the allegations true.

    On Albanian (not just Albanian, things in these parts are inherently disorganised) organisation I don’t completely agree. Kosovo Albanians have shown a good amount of organisation to achieve their political aims – including the funding of political parties and military organisations from abroad, for a number of years, that have been documented (to some degree) already. I also believe that Albanian society is pretty close knit, more so than Serbian society for example, which can mean that things can be kept hidden from view. On the less savoury side of things there are ways of making sure that people don’t talk as well, as we saw in the Haradinaj case. So I can’t disregard these allegations on those grounds.

    I don’t want to sound like a broken record here but this case isn’t the fault of journalists – Serbian or otherwise. It is Del Ponte that gave us this subject and she has not denied the stories so I am willing to assume that it comes directly from her book.
    The English edition, I read somewhere, won’t be due for at least 6 months.

  15. Richard there is a Bosnian NGO that has studied the number of Bosnian war dead Mirsad Tokica is the guy whose name you need.
    I’d like to point out that by looking at those killed one cannot work out who did the killing.
    For example Bosnian Muslums killed in Bihac were mostly killed by Bosnian Muslums.
    And we also know about the Bosnian Croat and Bosnian Muslum conflict.
    Having said that most Bosnian Muslums would have been killed by Bosnian Serbs.

  16. @ Bganon, I think you’re confusing me with Hektor Bim. I very carefully did /not/ suggest that the Serbs’ right to investigate their dead should depend on anyone else’s right being fulfilled first. The current government of Serbia has not been very helpful in this regard (and, as you say, it will be much worse if the next government is DSS/Radikal), but that should not affect the rights of individuals and families who are trying to find some closure and rest.

    Tightly knit Albanian society: the problem here is that the KLA was Kosovars, and the events in question supposedly happened in Albania itself. It makes a big difference. There’s not a lot of clan loyalty across that border. Albanians in Albania might be intimidated into silence, but they wouldn’t voluntarily keep silent the way Kosovars would. If there was a large operation with “hundreds” of prisoners, someone would have talked.

    I don’t think the Haradinaj case proves your point. If anything, it’s the opposite. Yes, it’s going to be very hard to convict Haradinaj. But that’s because the Hague requires a very high standard for conviction. The prosecutors had little difficulty collecting enough evidence to develop a case and indict him — even though the Kosovar Albanians were actively, and UNMIK passively, resisting cooperation by every means possible.

    Srebrenica: you have a point! There are probably a few people on the dead list who are actually alive, well, and living somewhere under a different name.

    That said, the number is probably quite smal… and yes, if a Serb said that, it would not be taken well. The problem here is that too many Serbs have simply denied Srebrenica altogether, or indulged in various lies and fantasies about it. A large minority, maybe a majority of Serbs simply do not want to know the truth. I know some otherwise sensible people in Belgrade who are quite certain that the victims at Srebrenica were “mostly” fighters, guerrillas and “mujahedeen” who were involved in earlier attacks on Serbs, and that the whole thing was “blown up” by “western propaganda”.

    Mirsad Tokica: you’ll get more hits for “Sarajevo Investigation and Documentation Centre”. Yes, they have done some very good work.

    Doug M.

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  19. The organ story has come out in the Western media. It’s perfectly plausible. It’s said that the KLA is too primitive to carry it out. Nonsense. Good money can be made on trafficking organs, it’s an easy matter for a mafia to invest the money in medical equipment required to carry it off.

    The KLA zone in question here is that of the recently-acquitted Ramush Haradinaj. He is also known for a mass grave containing 60 bodies near Donji Ratis that was discovered 9 September 1998 which was not mentioned at his so-called trial.

    There was no massacre in Srebrenica. Rather, prisoners of war from Izetbegovic’s 28th Division were shot in the Zvornik area. The 28th had broken out of Srebrenica the 11th July 1995 and and many were captured in subsequent days. As many as 2,000 of them were shot as PoWs.

    The Serbian government arrested suspects in connexion with these shootings, men linked to the Croat Erdemovic convicted at The Hague for the shootings. When Zoran Djindjic took power on 5 October 2000, the suspects were almost immediately released.

  20. Well, in a word, nonsense; uncomfirmed assertion; bullshit; and bullshit.

    (“Shot as POWs”? WTF?)

    Doug M.

  21. R if you sincerely care about the Serbian cause (insomuch as you believe that one exists) you might think about drawing attention to this issue without denying Srebrenica in the next breath.

    Most people in Serbia accept that some very torrid things occurred in Srebrenica, although figures might be disputed. My opinion is a dignified silence is better than denial. Whatever went on there is not to the credit of the Serbs.

  22. Very good trashing of this piece of demonisation. Not that Albanians or KLA folk weren’t as capable as anyone else, particualry in war, of being brutal, but it is somewhat appalling that any decent leftist would pump this story based entirely on hearsay about Albanians harvesting Serb body parts, when the same people would have rightly rejected stories such as the one about Serbian forces using Albanians as blood banks in 1999.

    Just one detail here: Del Ponte;s book actually reads “Among the prisoners who were taken to these barracks were women from Kosovo, Albania, Russia and other Slavic countries.” It says nothing about Serbs. Of course, in the unlikely event this story does actually have some truth, it is quite plausible that many of those from Kosovo were K Serbs, though since she also says “Albania”, it suggests the aleged operators didn’t have many ethnic biases. Why would they if they were out to make a buck? This actualy calls into question even more the suggestion, from Del Pontes version based even more fully on hearsay, that high ranking KLA members approved or were involved. More likely K Albanian criminals with merely criminal aims. The KLA may not be nice, but blowing up that alleged aspect is merely an attempt to demonsie in order to delegitimise their legitimate struggle for an independent Kosova.


    “Richard Says:
    March 27th, 2008 at 8:14 pm Doug M,
    My understanding is that a total of 95,000 people died in the various conflicts surrounding the breakup of Yugoslavia, all ethnic groups confounded. Do we have an idea of the breakdown by ethnic group of those killed?”

    Here’s my detailed answer to that – which conclusively shows how much bullshit was the left-liberal idea that Bosnia was a mere “civil war” between “three sides”:

  23. Denying Srebrenica? Hardly. I simply state that what they call the Srebrenica Massacre didn’t happen in Srebrenica at all. It took place in villages in the area of Zvornik, to the north of Srebrenica. Prisoners of war from the 28th Division were captured from the 12th of July to the 15th at various points during their journey to Tuzla, and prisoners were shuttled about before several hundred of them were shot in the Zvornik area (up to 2,000 they have proven so far). This is what the documentation states. This is what the trials at the ICTY have revealed. It’s not that complicated.

    At any rate, the Israelis did the same thing at el-Arish during the Six Day War. No one considered to be respectable is accusing them of genocide for that act.

    As for your speaking out in favour of organ harvesters, that’s your own problem. Claiming it to be impossible is a cop out. Organised crime involved in white slavery is capable of almost anything to make money…

    It’s likely that some of the victims of the butchery were some of these white slaves taken from Ukraine and Moldavia, you know, countries that are so much better off as allies of Nato.

  24. The first to confess and be convicted of the shootings of former Srebrenica defenders by the way was a Croat who had served if I’m not mistaken in at least two other of the armies of ex-Yugoslavia before finding his way in the VRS’s 10th Sabotage Detachment… The VRS had manpower shortages which unfortunately caused them to take on such “help” as Mr Erdemovic…

    The organ allegation makes perfect sense in a way that the human blood banks do not. An army such as the VJ has already means to get the necessary blood for its troops. It could certainly get the necessary blood from volunteers. It had no use for human blood banks. The KLA, as part of organised crime, had kidnapped scores of people for terror purposes, and had a wonderful way to both increase terror and make some money mafia style on the side. Win-win as far as the KLA is concerned.

    As for any risks, there were none. Chechen rebels committed gruesome crimes including dismemberments of Western citizens and yet the media was uniformly singing their praises and bashing the Russians despite that. The KLA knows that there is no crime big enough that it can commit to end the unconditional Western support it is getting.

  25. You’re right on the edge of deletion, “R”. But since I try to keep this an open forum — even for denialists and such — I’m erring on the side of caution. Mind your manners.

    I note in passing that the ICTY places the death toll at-and-around Srebrenica at approximately 8,000, not 2,000. Also that the majority of those killed were civilians, not “prisoners of war”. The Dutch government agrees, as does the IWPR. Then of course there’s the Republika Srpska’s official apology, which set the number at “several thousand” including “many” civilians.

    I’m guessing you’re pulling your information from the first “official” RS report — it gave that same figure of 2,000, and the same claim that all the victims were combatants. It was subsequently withdrawn, but it’s still in wide circulation among Serb nationalists and their friends.

    Doug M.

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