Milosevic police chief jailed for 27 years over Kosovo massacres

The former head of Serbia's police force was jailed for 27 years yesterday for war crimes, crimes against humanity and the murders of at least 724 civilians in Kosovo 12 years ago. Dressed in dark blue suit and white shirt, Vlastimir Djordjevic remained emotionless as the presiding judge, Kevin Parker, passed sentence at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague.

The court was told that Djordjevic had "participated in the joint criminal enterprise" led by the then Serbian president, Slobodan Milosevic, and his closest aides. Judge Parker added that the ex-police chief, 62, intended to "change the ethnic balance of Kosovo and ensure Serbian dominance in the territory".

Djordjevic, who also served the Milosevic government as the assistant internal affairs minister, was tried for the deportation in March 1999 of more than 200,000 ethnic Albanians by Serbian police, which coincided with the start of the Nato bombing campaign against Serbia.

"The true number [of expelled] might never be known," the judge said, adding that Djordjevic did nothing to prevent the deportations of mostly civilians to neighbouring Albania, Macedonia and Montenegro. The expulsions were followed by looting, burning of villages and the killings of women, children and the elderly, the court found.

In one massacre, two days after the Nato campaign began, Serb forces herded 114 men and boys into a barn, including a disabled man whose wheelchair was used to block one of the exits. Serb forces then riddled the barn with bullets from automatic weapons before setting it alight.

In another case, 45 members of the same family were killed after they tried to hide in a café. "Police threw hand grenades inside the cafe and then opened fire on them [as they tried to escape]," Judge Parker said in his verdict.

"In the large majority of cases, the victims, including many women and children, were civilians who were unarmed and not in any way participating in any form of armed conflict."

Djordjevic was also found guilty of playing a central role in trying to conceal war crimes and atrocities perpetrated against civilians by Serb forces.

In one incident, he ordered almost 900 corpses to be moved 400km in refrigerated trucks.

The bodies were then reburied at a police training centre in Batajnica, near Belgrade, in an attempt to hide them from Western observers. The dead were unearthed and identified in 2001 after the Milosevic regime collaped.

Djordjevic evaded justice for eight years. When arrested in Montenegro in 2007 he had grown long hair and was posing as a construction worker.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: QA Technician

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading manufacturer of re...

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion, an experienced and hig...

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 per annum + commission: SThree: Sthree have an exciting opportunity for...

Recruitment Genius: Plumbing & Heating / Bathroom Trade Counter Sales

£22000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This well established London ba...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat