Liberation of Kosovo: War crimes - Women's bodies found in stream

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The Independent Online
THE BRITISH forensic team investigating war crimes in Kosovo has uncovered almost 80 decomposing bodies, some of them of women and children, in a stream outside the village of Blacrvka, the Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, said in New York yesterday.

The discovery was relayed to Mr Cook by the leader of the team, Chief Superintendent John Bunn, by telephone. Mr Cook was attending a meeting of 16 foreign ministers at the United Nations to push forward the reconstruction of Kosovo. There, he pledged $1m (pounds 647,000) by Britain to the UN Trust Fund on rebuilding the province.

Mr Bunn told Mr Cook that the smell of the bodies being removed from the stream all in plastic bags, was "horrific".

And he described what he believed took place in the village, which translates as the White Church, on or around 25 March. It is believed villagers rushed to the stream, near a rail bridge, when Serbian police arrived. At once, 12 were shot by the police, including 10 women and children. Then, according to Mr Cook, the rest were ordered out of the stream. The men were separated, ordered back under the bridge and then shot. About 65 men are believed to have been shot. The incident was listed in an indictment handed down by the UN war crimes tribunal against Slobodan Milosevic.

Mr Cook also said that he would be appealing to towns and cities across Britain to twin with Kosovo and send local officials to help in the running of the country. "I am sure that there might well be local communities who might find it a positive and valuable way to express their wish to be part of the reconstruction of Kosovo to be supportive of a particular town or community within Kosovo," he said.

Sixteen countries have pledged 1,900 personnel towards an international UN police force in Kosovo of 3,000. Because the police force must be armed no officers are to be supplied by Britain.