Anniversary of the case that served as cause to bomb Yugoslavia: 21 years since massacre in Racak
Although all reports of the Serbian side said it was Albanian terrorists who had been killed in Racak, allegations made by then head of an OSCE mission in Kosovo William Walker that a massacre of civilians had been committed was the direct cause for the NATO bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SRJ, Serbia and Montenegro)
On this day 21 years ago, in the village of Racak in Kosovo and Metohija, the bodies of 45 Albanians were found, with Serbian security forces blamed for the deaths without evidence. Although all reports of the Serbian side said it was Albanian terrorists who had been killed in Racak, allegations made by then head of an OSCE mission in Kosovo William Walker that a massacre of civilians had been committed was the direct cause for the NATO bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia for two months later.
The truth about Racak remained hidden from the global public, primarily because a full report of the European Union expert team, submitted to its then presidency in Bonn, was never made public. The reason, according to domestic analysts, is that the truth about the "Racak case" doesn't favor the goals of Western governments even now - who are not abandoning the policy of separating Kosovo and Metohija from Serbia.
According to investigative judge Danica Marinkovic, who conducted an investigation at the scene in Racak, it was determined at the time that no massacre had occurred and that the victims were not innocent Albanian civilians, but members of the KLA ("Kosovo Liberation Army"), with extensive photographic evidence about this including a large amount of weapons found in the village.
A reporter for France's Figaro, a witness to the events in Kosovo, Renaud Girard, told the daily Vecernje Novosti that he was in Decani with a BBC correspondent at the time, where OSCE officials complained that Albanians were not respecting a ceasefire, and that upon arrival at the Grand Hotel in Pristina he was informed that Serbian forces had carried out a successful anti-terrorist operation in Racak.
Girard said he went to Racak the next day and found uniformed KLA members in the village.
"The bodies of exclusively men were lined up side by side. There was even one severed head. It was an unpleasant sight," Girard said.
He also stressed that Walker immediately condemned the Serbs, describing his arrival in Racak and conversations with KLA leaders.
"He came to Racak only on Saturday, then spoke with KLA leaders for a long time, and then went directly to Pristina for a press conference where he repeated the charges against the Serbs. If he wanted to do the job of an observer well, he would have gone to the police station in Stimlje beforehand to hear the Serbian side as well," Girard said.
According to experts, the case was "fabricated" during the Rambouillet negotiations that had stalled because the Belgrade authorities refused to accept an offer of the West.
Three forensic teams - Yugoslav, Belarus and Finnish - determined that only gunshot wounds were found on the bodies of those killed in the village of Racak, inflicted by weapons fired from a distance. Gunpowder traces were found on the hands of 37 of the 40 bodies, which is evidence that they died shortly after using firearms, that is, that they participated in the fighting.
Forensic expert: Walker "dictated" how we should write our autopsy reports
Two years ago, the media quoted a statement by Finnish forensic expert Helena Ranta that Walker was "dictating" to her how to make a report about the autopsies of Albanian victims in the village of Racak, Kosovo, and she had to use the word massacre. It was on this version that a part of the Hague Tribunal's indictment against officials of the Serbian state, army and police was based. Following the presentation of evidence by Slobodan Milosevic before the Hague Tribunal that Albanian terrorists were fought against in Racak and that members of the illegal KLA were the ones who got killed, this case was removed from the indictments against General Nebojsa Pavkovic, Vladimir Lazarevic and others.
US diplomat Walker is spending this January 15 as well and the anniversary of the crime in Kosovo, where he came at the invitation of the foreign minister of this unrecognized state, Behgjet Pacolli.
According to Pristina media, his visit to Kosovo and Montenegro coincides with the formation of a government in Pristina, so some have concluded that it will affect those negotiations. Commenting on these reports, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said that "what he did in 1999, he can no longer do to harm Serbia."
"That's the 'expert' who participated in the creation of the so-called independent Kosovo, and now he's in favor of Greater Albania? Your bad business will come to nothing William! You did what you did in 1999, your time is past and Serbia is today is not a handful of oats that you can eat," said Vucic, responding to journalists as he toured the MEI TA factory near Obrenovac.
What does MUP's official version say?
According to the official version contained in the MUP (Ministry of Interior) report and the record of the investigating judge about the investigation of the scene, clashes took place in Racak between armed Albanians and Serbian police. 40 Albanians were killed on the occasion, mostly not in uniform but all wearing warm multi-layered clothing, many of them with identical military boots, and most of them in possession of firearms, which they were using at the time.
Otherwise, the Racak village was surrounded by trenches, while one of the headquarters of the so-called KLA was also there. Large quantities of weapons and ammunition were found at the scene.