War In The Balkans: Killings film to be used in trials

Video Evidence
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The Independent Online
THE DEVASTATING two- minute videotape providing documentary evidence of specific Serb atrocities and executions of Albanian refugees is to be used in future war crimes trials of the Serb leadership.

The tape, brought out of the country by Milaim Bellanica, a survivor of an alleged massacre on 26 March, in the village of Velika Krusa, near Prizren, shows the bodies of 15 men, lying amid burnt-out houses, some shot in the back of the head, others charred beyond recognition. The only sound to break the otherwise silent soundtrack is the eerie twittering of birds. Mr Bellanica,who specialised in filming weddings before the exodus from Kosovo began, has named 26 victims he knew personally. Most he claims were farmers who had nothing to do with the Kosovo Liberation Army.

Yesterday, as the tape played all day on television, the Nato spokesman Jamie Shea cautioned that its veracity still had to be checked. But if the film turns out to be authentic, the two minutes of footage will be remembered for many years to come. It is also being lodged with the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague.

Yesterday Mr Bellanica was telling journalists how he hid in the basement of his house for seven days after his friends perished in the murder and mayhem reigned above.

The Serb police, he said, looted and burnt houses, including his own. He claims three elderly neighbours - all brothers - were burnt to death. The video was made after police left, and smuggled out in the chassis of a tractor.

Mr Bellanica risked his life to take the film into Albania. "I have done this so that my son, my grandson, and the next generation will never forget what the Serbs have done to the Albanian people."

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