Torture and organ smuggling.

—– Original Message —– From: To: ; Sent: Thursday, April 09, 2009 20:15 Subject: [yugoslaviainfo] Background of reporter on KLA This is background data on the reporter behind the recent BBC reports on KLA abductions, torture and organ smuggling. I suspect he hasn’t made his name portraying Serbs as victims: Michael Montgomery, United States, is an award-winning correspondent for American Radio Works, the largest investigative/documentary unit in U.S. public radio and a division of Minnesota Public Radio. A veteran of radio, television and newspapers, Montgomery has reported from Europe, Africa and Latin America on such topics as human rights, war crimes tribunals, corruption, criminal justice and prisons. His work airs often on National Public Radio. Montgomery and co-producer Stephen Smith were finalists for the 2000 ICIJ Award for their investigative documentary Massacre at Cuska, an account of one massacre in Kosovo told through interviews with victims and perpetrators. The documentary also won a Dupont-Columbia gold baton, the top award in U.S. broadcast journalism. Montgomery began his career as a newspaper reporter covering the fall of communism in Eastern Europe. Montgomery was a staff correspondent for the Daily Telegraph and contributor to the Los Angeles Times. As a Balkans-based correspondent for six years, Montgomery reported extensively on the wars in Croatia and Bosnia, including the siege of Sarajevo. In the late 1990s he worked as a television producer for CBS News in New York City. He lives in San Francisco, California. Producer Michael Montgomery has worked in national radio, television, and newspapers. He joined American RadioWorks as a correspondent in July, 1999. Prior to that, Montgomery was an associate producer at CBS Reports and 60 Minutes, where he covered national and international stories, including an extensive investigation into Mexican drug trafficking. From 1989 to 1995, Montgomery was a Balkans correspondent for the London Daily Telegraph, covering the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and the break up of Yugoslavia. He reported extensively on the wars in Croatia and Bosnia, including the siege of Sarajevo. Montgomery also covered the region as a freelance reporter for Time Magazine and the Los Angeles Times. Montgomery was a Fulbright scholar in Belgrade from 1987 to 1989, researching Serbian nationalism. He graduated from Macalester College with a degree in International Studies. Montgomery is the recipient of an Alfred E. Dupont-Columbia Gold Baton and Overseas Press Club Award. INVESTIGATION: KLA Ran Torture Camps in Albania Kukes, Bajram Curri, Tropoja, Kruma, Prizren, Pristina and Tirana | 09 April 2009 | By Altin Raxhimi, Michael Montgomery and Vladimir Karaj Part of the factory in Kukes where people were held captive and tortured Part of the factory in Kukes where people were held captive and tortured The Kosovo Liberation Army maintained a network of prisons in their bases in Albania and Kosovo during and after the conflict of 1999, eyewitnesses allege. Only now are the details of what occurred there emerging. KUKES, Albania – In a run-down industrial compound with shattered windows and peeling plaster, chickens rummage for food and two trucks sit idle in a courtyard surrounded by rusted warehouses and a crumbling two-story supply building. In the middle of the compound stands a cinderblock shack that was once the office of a mechanical plant that produced everything from manhole covers to elevator cages. But during the NATO bombing of the former Yugoslavia, from March to June 1999, this facility took on another purpose. It was occupied by a guerrilla force, the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, as a support base for their operations across the border in Serbian-ruled Kosovo. But the factory was not merely the headquarters for guerrillas fighting the regime of Slobodan Milosevic to secure the independence of Kosovo from Serbia. It assumed more sinister purposes: dozens of civilians, mainly Kosovo Albanians suspected of collaboration, but also Serbs and Roma were held captive there, beaten and tortured. Some were killed, their remains never recovered. The men who allegedly directed the abuses were officers of the KLA. At least 25 people were imprisoned in Kukes, witnesses say. Amongst them were three Kosovo Albanian women. In the camp at least 18 people were killed, while others were later rescued by NATO troops. It appears that Kukes housed one of a number of secret detention centres in Albania and Kosovo, and that prisoners were transferred from one facility to another. Part of the factory in Kukes where people were held captive and tortured Part of the factory in Kukes where people were held captive and tortured Even after the NATO interventions, a camp was maintained in Baballoq/Babaloc in Kosovo, holding around 30 Serb and Roma prisoners, whose current whereabouts are unknown. Other camps in Albania may have held Serbs kidnapped in Kosovo after the war, according to four sources. The names of several alleged perpetrators have been known to UNMIK for some time. One of them is still holding a high position in the Kosovo judiciary, Balkan Insight understands. Bislim Zyrapi, an official of the Kosovo Interior Ministry, who was responsible for KLA operations in Kukes, told Balkan Insight that there were no people killed either at the base or outside of it. Two of the KLA’s former top leaders rejected the allegations in separate interviews with the BBC. Kosovo’s Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, who was then the political director of the KLA, and Agim Ceku, former Prime Minister and former chief of KLA headquarter, told the BBC they were not aware of any KLA prisons where captives were abused or where civilians were held. Thaci said he was aware that individuals had ‚abused KLA uniforms‘ after the war, but said the KLA had distanced itself from such acts. He added that such abuse was ‚minimal‘. Ceku said that the KLA fought a “clean war”. However, Jose Pablo Baraybar, the chief of the Office of Missing Persons and Forensics within UNMIK for five years, says: “There were people that are certainly alive that were in Kukes in that camp as prisoners. Those people saw other people there, both Albanians and non-Albanians. There were members of the KLA leadership going through that camp. Many names were mentioned, and I would say that that is an established fact.” Baraybar tracked missing citizens in Kosovo and across the border in Albania. Karin Limdal, spokeswoman for EU rule of law mission in Kosovo, EULEX, told Balkan Insight that this mission is aware of the allegations concerning the Kukes case, and prosecutors are looking at the evidence to see if they can bring indictments. YELLOW MERCEDES OF DEATH These grave allegations about the Kukes camp, in the north west of Albania, are based on interviews with several sources: two eyewitnesses – one former inmate and one member of the KLA – records from a cemetery in Albania and UN documents that we have gained access to and which detail the testimonies of people ill-treated in Kukes. Together, they paint a portrait of a brutal prison regime that is at odds with the claims of former KLA leaders who say they adhered to international human rights conventions and never detained civilians. The abuses in Kukes may not have been isolated events. According to former KLA fighters who talked to us, as well as independent testimony provided to UN investigators, the KLA maintained a loose network of at least six secret jails in the dozen or so bases they held in Albania and the two they had in Kosovo during and after the 1999 war. Those jails, many adjoining KLA bases in Albania, were used for interrogations that routinely included torture, according to sources interviewed for this story. Most former KLA soldiers we interviewed are proud of their war with the Serbian forces, whose bloody actions forced the mass flight of hundreds of thousands of Kosovo Albanians from their homes in 1999. But some said they felt shamed by what some KLA commanders and leaders had done under the cover of war. “It didn’t seem strange at the time,” one former KLA soldier, who witnessed the events, said. “But now, looking back, I know that some of the things that were done to innocent civilians were wrong. But the people who did these things act as if nothing happened, and continue to hurt their own people, Albanians.” Another eyewitness, a Kosovo Albanian, says he was held at the KLA base in Kukes on the pretext of being Serbian spy, an allegation he vehemently denies. This man, who did not wish to be named, described witnessing KLA soldiers abusing and torturing prisoners at the base for weeks, often under the supervision of KLA officers. “I saw people being beaten, stabbed, hit with batons,” he said. “I saw people left without food for five or six days. I saw coffins being thrown in graves. I’ve seen people killed.” This man claimed most of the captives held at Kukes were non-combatant civilians, mainly Albanians accused of working for the regime and some Roma. There were also some KLA soldiers, imprisoned for disciplinary measures. Interior of what used to be a prison cell in Kukes Interior of what used to be a prison cell in Kukes According to both sources, three prisoners were Kosovo Albanian women. Two were Roma from Prizren. The rest were young Kosovo Albanian males, aged between 20 and 27, all accused of collaborating with Serbian forces. The inmate said he also heard shouts in Serbian from prisoners who were being tortured a short distance away from the compound. The inmate said that he heard „people crying and yelling at being tortured, and I could specifically distinguish native Serbian being spoken there”. He said some Kosovo Albanian prisoners were shot or beaten to death on the base while others were driven off in a yellow Mercedes. One Kosovo Albanian prisoner died in front of him, and five other inmates, after being shot in the calf by his interrogators and then left untreated. The records of the cemetery in Kukes shed light on the man who died after being shot in the calf. He was buried in the plot in the cemetery reserved for Kosovo Albanians who died in Albania during the conflict on June 10, 1999, according to cemetery records, four days before Serbian forces pulled out of Kosovo. “Every time I saw the yellow Mercedes, someone was taken in that car and then I would never see that person again,” he said. “They were never found.” The same former inmate said he believed the people had been taken captive for various reasons, which included revenge and greed, as well as allegations that they were Serbian spies. One prisoner had worked as a policeman in the western town of Gjakova/Djakovica under the Milosevic regime. He was taken away in the yellow Mercedes and has not been seen since. Another had been a teacher whose apparent offence was to have a license to carry a gun issued by the Serbian authorities. The inmate said he believed that more than 25 people were held there from March to June 1999, from the start of the NATO bombing of the former Yugoslavia until NATO forces moved into Kosovo. The inmates were mostly from the city of Prizren and surrounding villages. The KLA had apprehended them after waves of Kosovars entered Kukes during the period of the NATO bombing. At least one was arrested as far away as Durres, or Lushnja, in central Albania, according to both sources. Our source, who was an inmate, recalls another inmate, a Kosovo Albanian, yelling from the barred windows to the troops on the yard, telling them that if they killed him, he had six brothers who would avenge him. “What would you do about them?,” he challenged them. According to the same two sources, and UNMIK documents of the investigation into the case, some of the survivors were transferred in the aftermath of the war to detention cells at the police station in Prizren, in Kosovo. On June 18, they and other people detained by the KLA in Prizren were released by German KFOR troops who stormed the building. The same sources estimated that as many as 18 captives may have been killed in Kukes. The source, who was a member of the KLA, said: “I understand that they had cooperated with the Serbs and had done a lot of harm. This would make people mad when one thinks of the massacres happening across the border. But their treatment was brutal. At times, I was sorry for them.” The former inmate we spoke to was sceptical about whether any of the captives had actively collaborated with Serbian death squads. “But even if they deserved punishment, no one had the right to do that [torture] to someone [else],” he said. “No one has the right to do such things to other human beings.” A NETWORK OF CAMPS Kukes was an important strategic location for the KLA. Weapons, uniforms, cash and fresh recruits all flowed through the warehouses and storage buildings at the site. The base was also important for the KLA military police, which reportedly rounded up suspects from among the mass of civilians who fled to, or were expelled to, Albania by Serbian forces. A unit of the Albanian army stationed at the base in Kukes assisted the KLA to set up its military police operations, according to several policemen we interviewed. It appears that Kukes was one of many detention centres in Albania and Kosovo, and prisoners would be transferred from one to another. Two captives were brought to Kukes from a similar KLA facility near the town of Burrel, said the former inmate, where the KLA ran a barracks for training soldiers during the last two months of the war. “They told us about people being killed there, people put into lime pits there,” he said. “I could also see what was going on in Burrel from the state [in which] they were brought in… They’d been tortured badly.” According to the UN documents, the interviews with KLA members and the inmate, other captives were transferred to Kukes from KLA facilities in at least two other places, Durres and, after the war, from Prizren in Kosovo itself. The city of Kukes The city of Kukes The KLA had intelligence units and military police in most bases they maintained in Albania. Halil Katana, a military journalist from Tirana, in his authorised biography of Kudusi Lama, the commander of the Kukes division, ‘Kudusi Lama: War General’, writes: “Those units [of the KLA military police] played an important role in establishing the discipline in KLA groups trained in the Kukes area, and in seizing Serb agents who entered the country amongst refugees from Kosovo.” These units maintained detainment cells in Babine, a logistics centre near the border region of Tropoja, in the training camp of Burrel, and at a KLA base in Durres, according to our third source, another member of the KLA. Bislim Zyrapi, currently an official of the Interior Ministry of Kosovo, was responsible for the KLA operations at this base in Kukes from early May to the end of the NATO bombing of former Yugoslavia on June 10th. He says that the people detained at the jail in Kukes were soldiers with disciplinary problems and that there were no people killed at the base or outside of it. But he added that he found the KLA in disarray, with armed soldiers and individuals who wandered freely in town and elsewhere in Albania. “One of the first things I had to do was to discipline them,” he said. PERPETRATORS AT LARGE According to eyewitnesses, two Albanian citizens, involved with the KLA, took part in these interrogations. One man, described as having long black hair, was especially brutal to the Roma from Prizren, according to one source. One source said KLA fighters coming back from fighting in Kosovo sometimes took out their rage on the inmates. The other said the prisoners were tortured into admitting they had cooperated with Serbian state security forces, UDBA. The interrogators wanted to record the prisoners confessing collaboration with the Serbs. The same sources that witnessed the base in Kukes told us that the interrogators in Kukes were KLA officers who had been involved in the capture of suspected collaborators. Both our two sources, concerning the base, identified several KLA officers involved in the abuses at Kukes. One of them was is currently in a top position in the judicial system in Kosovo. We have withheld names of the alleged perpetrators, so as not to endanger our sources. Some men involved in the abuses at Kukes were also involved in abducting Kosovo citizens after the war, according to former KLA soldiers we interviewed. Their targets were not Albanian “traitors” but Serbs or Roma who had remained in Kosovo after NATO troops entered the territory. One Kosovo Albanian who returned to fight in Kosovo, after spending many years abroad, told us he saw nearly 30 Serbs and Roma held in a KLA camp in Baballoq/Babaloc, near Decan in western Kosovo, after the war, in summer 1999. He said he heard screams from the location and assumed the inmates were being tortured. When NATO patrols passed through the area, the prisoners were hidden in a workhouse, the same source added. This former KLA fighter said he suspects the group was taken over the border to Albania and killed. “I never saw them again, never read anything about them in the newspaper,” he said. “So they probably disappeared into the mountains”. Read also: Burrel: KLA Training Camp with Another Purpose? The KLA: From Guerilla Wars to Party Plenums Altin Raxhimi is a freelance journalist based in Tirana. Michael Montgomery is a special correspondent for the Center for Investigative Reporting in Berkeley, California. Vladimir Karaj is a reporter with ‘Korrieri’, a Tirana daily. The research for this story was funded by the Alumni fund for the Balkan Fellowship for Journalism Excellence. Part of the funding was provided by SCOOP, a structure of the Danish Association for Investigative Journalism that helps fund investigative journalism in Eastern Europe. © The full text of this article is the copyright of the Balkan Investigative Journalism Network, BIRN, and its authors. No part of this article may be reproduced in any form without the express permission of BIRN. Requests for syndication should be directed to Burrel: KLA Training Camp with Another Purpose? From April 1999 to the end of the conflict in Kosovo, the Albanian army base outside the town of Burrel, 120 kilometers south of Kukes and 90 kilometers north of Tirana, served as a KLA training camp. By Altin Raxhimi About 2,000 KLA volunteers, most coming from Western Europe, were trained there in all. In 2003, an UNMIK and ICTY [Hague war crimes tribunal] mission visited a house 40 minutes away in the village of Rribe to investigate allegations that organs from Serbs abducted from Kosovo had been “harvested” there. The issue gained prominence last year when Carla del Ponte, the former chief prosecutor for the ICTY, mentioned these allegations in a book she wrote on her time in office. Although a forensic team went to look at the house the inquiry never went anywhere, while becoming a hot political issue between Albania, Kosovo and Serbia. The Kosovo and Albanian authorities argued that the investigation never went anywhere because the allegations were unfounded and malicious, “cooked up by Belgrade” to undermine the legitimacy of Kosovo’s fight for independence. In Belgrade, officials have highlighted the claims as “proof” that the Albanian guerrilla war against Serbia was a brutal criminal enterprise. Meanwhile, the issue remains open. The number of the missing Albanians who disappeared during the Kosovo conflict is now believed to have fallen from 1,800 from 1,200 while the number of disappeared Serbs has remained roughly the same, at about 400. Were all or some of these 400 killed in Albania? The mystery over their disappearance has not been solved. The KLA: From Guerilla Wars to Party Plenums The Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, was an ethnic Albanian guerrilla group that came to the fore in the mid-1990s, demanding the unification of Albanian territories in former Yugoslavia with Albania. By Altin Raxhimi The political parties behind the KLA were two fringe groups of émigrés and nationalist political prisoners, the People’s League of Kosovo, LPK, and the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Kosovo, LKCK, which advocated an armed struggle for the liberation of the Albanians in former Yugoslavia. These groups’ aims were different from those of the more mainstream Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, led by Ibrahim Rugova, which advocated a peaceful struggle for the independence of Kosovo. Their focus was Kosovo, which was where most LPK members came from and where the Albanian population in former Yugoslavia was concentrated. The KLA organised armed resistance to, and conflict with, Serbian security forces during the period of 1997 to 1999, initially using hit-and-run tactics. Later, they claimed to have liberated territory in Kosovo. They achieved more fame as a result of the harsh reprisals the Serbian security forces took against the civilian Albanian population. The KLA core leadership dated back to the nationalist demonstrations Kosovo Albanians staged in 1981, when protesters demanded republican status for the then autonomous province. But it was never rigidly structured, more resembling an association of clans than a hierarchical military force. In the early 1990s, following the fall of the communist regime in Albania, LPK officials established a presence there too. There they sought to train themselves militarily and smuggle weapons into Kosovo. These actions intensified and became easier after 1997, when Albania became awash with weapons after the collapse of various pyramid savings schemes led to a period of virtual anarchy. They also formed close ties with then ruling Socialist Party of Albania, which tolerated the arming and movement of KLA forces in Albania along the Albanian border. During the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, the KLA announced it was forming a provisional government and enlisting young Kosovo Albanians to fight in Kosovo. In Albania, it tried to build up a more institutional army, equipped with its own intelligence unit, military police, logistics operations and more, according to several books on the KLA and interviews with its leaders. .. It established itself in Durres and Tirana in central Albania, but also used at least ten bases along the border with Kosovo and three training and logistics centres further inland, according to several KLA members from Albania. In August 1999, after NATO moved into Kosovo and the province was handed over to the United Nations to administer, the KLA was disbanded under international pressure. Some its members found new jobs with the Kosovo Protection Force, TMK, and with the Kosovo Police Service. Its leaders now formed their own parties. A Drenica group within the LPK formed the Democratic Party of Kosovo, led by Hashim Thaci, currently Prime Minister of Kosovo. Ramush Haradinaj, the KLA commander of the western Dukagjini area, along the border with Albania, formed the Alliance for the Kosovo’s Future. Several former senior KLA officials were involved in the conflicts that spilled over from Kosovo into other ethnic Albanian areas of former Yugoslavia, namely, the Presevo valley of southern Serbia and western Macedonia. They were active in the formation of the Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac, a guerilla force in southern Serbia, and in the Albanian National Army, ANA, which operated in Macedonia. Two ANA leaders, Gezim Ostreni and Ali Ahmeti, had once been active in the KLA in the Dukagjini and Prizren areas of Kosovo. Ahmeti and Ostreni have since formed the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI, which currently forms part of the coalition government in Macedonia, and which Ahmeti leads.

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