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Serbs Ordered Cover-Up of Massacre, Witness Says

Tribunal: Colonel testifying against the government exchanges a stare with Milosevic.

September 04, 2002|From Associated Press

THE HAGUE — Serbian government officials ordered a cover-up of the remains of 86 Kosovo Albanians found in a truck in the Danube River, a police colonel testified Tuesday at the war crimes trial of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

Col. Caslav Golubovic headed a regional office of the police in eastern Serbia when the refrigerated truck was found in April 1999.

The bodies, which included those of women and children, were found near the Serbian border with Romania, more than 100 miles from Kosovo, a province of Serbia, Yugoslavia's main republic.

Golubovic held Milosevic's gaze with an emotionless stare for several seconds before taking the oath to testify. The witness said he received a telephone call from Serbian Gen. Vlastimir Djordjevic a day after a fisherman found the white Mercedes freezer truck adrift in the river.

Djordjevic told him "to explore the possibility of transferring the bodies to a different truck, then transferring them to a burial place in the area," Golubovic said.

The orders came directly from the Serbian Interior Ministry, Golubovic said. Former Interior Minister Vlajko Stojiljkovic also issued instructions not to speak to the media about the incident.

The remains were later sent to Belgrade, the Serbian and Yugoslav capital, and the truck was destroyed, Golubovic said.

Milosevic, who is conducting his own defense at the U.N. court, has claimed that reports about the truck were invented to incriminate him. He faces 66 counts of war crimes in connection with a decade of Balkan conflicts in the 1990s.

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