War in The Balkans: Serb gunman `murders 16'

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The Independent Online
A SERBIAN gunman has been responsible for the cold- blooded murders of at least 16 Kosovars, including women,according to refugees arriving in Macedonia.

Evidence of the alleged murderer, known only as Dragica, will be given to human rights activists by Kosovo exiles who want war-crime charges brought against him and others. The claims came from a group of 65 former prisoners released by the Serbian authorities who crossed the border with tales of beatings and killings in jail by guards and Serbian inmates.

Dragica, who is said to have his name tattooed on his wrist, shot his victims dead after robbing them, the refugees said. He also boasted to fellow paramilitaries that he will make sure no one gives evidence against him at a future trial.

But one of the former prisoners, a man in his 40s called Shaban, says he has knowledge of eight of the murders, and saw some with his own eyes. "The killings are for money and valuables," he said. "After taking what he can Dragica thanks the people he has robbed and then shoots them. He feels he is eliminating witnesses. But he has failed to kill us all. I have seen some of the killings, and I am prepared to give evidence against him if he is charged. We want this man, and others like him, to be indicted for war crimes just like Milosevic."

Dragica operates in the Glogovac area of central Kosovo. The refugees describe him as tall, brown- haired with a moustache, and in his mid-30s. Shaban, who with the others was kept at Lipjana prison, also described beatings and maltreatment leading to death. He said: "I have seen bodies being taken out. The beatings take place all the time. The guards encourage Serb prisoners to join in. There is one man, who is serving nine years for raping two women, who is one of the worst."

Shaban says he was held in prison after being separated from his family in a queue. He is not sure why he was picked out, and also unsure why he has been released.

Another former prisoner, Astrit Geremi, 23, said: "We had just one loaf of bread and a cup of water between the five of us. We were regularly beaten."