War in the Balkans: Atrocities - UN has `massive evidence of war crimes by Serbs'

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The Independent Online
UNITED NATIONS investigators stated publicly for the first time yesterday that they have evidence of "massive war crimes" committed by Serb forces in Kosovo. They said nobody, including Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, was immune from prosecution.

Much of the evidence is believed to include horrific accounts of mass murder, rape, torture and the deliberate destruction of homes and property by Serb special police.

Teams working for Louise Arbour, the UN war crimes prosecutor, have been gathering testimony from refugees sheltering in Macedonia and Albania but said yesterday that they now want to gain direct access to Kosovo. But the eye- witness accounts as well as data contained in intelligence files handed over by Western governments may be enough to form the basis for prosecutions and indictments, the team said in Tirana.

"Certainly the information we are receiving is allowing us to continue building the evidence of quite massive crimes that have occurred," Ms Arbour's spokesman, Paul Risley, said. "Much of the information includes quite accurate eyewitness accounts of war crimes, crimes against humanity committed ... generally since ... March and right up until recent days."

The war crimes investigators' declaration came just a day after UN fact- finders emerging from Kosovo spoke of "revolting" evidence of wholesale ethnic cleansing.

After three days touring the province Sergio Vieira de Mello, UN under- secretary for humanitarian affairs, said he was outraged by what he had seen. "We have seen enough evidence and heard enough testimony to confirm that there has been an attempt at displacing internally and externally a shocking number of civilians."