Liberation of Kosovo: Victims tell of abuse by KLA

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The Independent Online
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH has accused members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) of committing violent abuses against Serbs and gypsies in Kosovo. The New York-based monitoring organisation said a week of investigations in the central and southern towns of Orahovac, Prizren and Pec had revealed KLA involvement in at least five murders, four abductions, one rape, and 14 detentions.

In Prizren, the spouses of two Serbs, Trifa Stamenkovic, 85, and Marija Filipovic, 59, were murdered on 21 June, allegedly by KLA members. The neighbours found Marika Stamenkovic, 77, and Panta Filipovic, 63, stabbed and with their throats cut.

Other apparent KLA killings took place in Belo Polje, near Pec. A Human Rights Watch researcher in the village viewed the bodies of three Serbs, each of whom had been shot between the eyes at point-blank range. They were killed on 19 June.

KLA members are also responsible for disappearances and beatings, Human Rights Watch said, after interviewing 14 people who were abducted by the group. One was held for 33 days. These victims, including a woman of 77, had black eyes and extensive bruising.

The KLA has also detained Albanian men, accused of collaborating with the Serbian authorities. One Albanian woman claimed she was raped by KLA forces because a male relative worked as a policeman under the Serbian authorities.

t KLA members have begun surrendering their weapons to British soldiers. Under a plan agreed on 21 June between K-For's commander, General Sir Michael Jackson, and the KLA commander, Hashim Thaci, KLA rebels can bear arms only in designated areas and must keep their weapons in supervised stores.