Finnish Experts Find No Massacre at Racak

Foreign Affairs News
Source: Bloomberg/Berliner Zeitung
Published: 1/18/01 Author: Alan Purkiss
Posted on 01/23/2001 06:38:05 PST by Antiwar Republican

"Berlin, Jan. 18 -- Finnish forensic experts found no evidence that Serb security forces massacred ethnic Albanian civilians in the Kosovo village of Racak in January 1999, the Berliner Zeitung reported. The alleged massacre was one of the main incdients that triggered the North Atlantic Treaty Organizations’s 78-day war against Serbia."

"Juha Rainio, Kaisa Lalu and Antti Penttila were unable to confirm tha the 40 bodies they examined were villagers from Racak, the newspaper said."

"The findings were welcomed by the Serbian authorities yesterday. ‘Only now does the truth come out,’ Beliner Zeitung quoted an unidentified senior official at the Interior Ministry as saying. ‘Then, no one wanted to believe us.’"

"The discovery of 45 bodies near Racak, in souther Kosovo, on Jan. 15 1999, led President Bill Clinton at the time to speak of ‘a deliberate and indiscriminate act of murder.’ The Serb authorities denied that and said the bodies were those of Kosovo Liberation Army guerillas killed in battle. NATO attacks on Serbia began on March 24."

"The Finnish team was asked by the European Union in thespring of 1999 to investigate the killings, and the investigation was carried out together with Serbian and Belorussian experts, Deutsche Presse Agentur said. the team’s report is due to be published soon in the journal Forensi Science International.b Berliner Zeitung obtained a copy prior to publication."

"’The Finnish experts were unable to find anything against us’" said Milan Milutinovic, Serbia’s president at the time of the events, who is still in office today. ‘Will those responsible for the malicious anti-Serb accusation now be brought to book?’"

"Milutinovic is one of those who has been indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, in The Hague, Netherlands."

"The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in europe said in the spring of 1999 that there was evidence that unarmed civilinas were killed at Racak, DPA said. Many bodies, the OSCE said, were found disfigured and had been shot at close range."

"The Serbian authorities said the bodies had been placed at the scene to give the impression of a massacre."

"The Finnish team said it hadn’t been possible to establish the exact site of the supposed massacre, and only in one case did it find traces of gun smoke thatb might indicate an execution."

(Berliner Zeitung, 1/18; Deutsche Presse Agentur, 1/18)

For Berliner Zeitung’s Web Site, see www.berlinonline.de

Alan Purkiss in the London newsroom (44 20 7330 7760)