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Serbian Minister Comments on Exhumed Bodies,


BBC Worldwide Monitoring
June 13, 2001

The bodies extracted from the refrigerator truck submerged in the Danube were buried at a location near the Serbian MUP Ministry of Internal Affairs 13 May training centre in Batajnica, Capt Dragan Karleusa, the deputy head of the Serbian MUP's criminal police division, confirmed today.

"According to reliable MUP information, there were 86 human bodies in the submerged refrigerator truck, and they were transported in two trucks. One truck contained 30 bodies and the other 56," Karleusa said at a press conference, after which a 10-minute film was shown in which the clearing of the ground with an excavator and the uncovering of the bodies could be seen.

During the showing of the film, which covered the period from 31 May to 5 June, Karleusa also said that the ground was covered with dense undergrowth that was "around two years old", and that the area "showed no signs of a grave".

The film showed that the location of the graves was pointed out by an " excavator operator" who was clearing the ground. It was also stated that the mound containing the bodies was located about 100 meters from the Danube, on the southern side of the Belgrade-Batajnica road.

Karleusa also said that the grave measured "10 metres by 10 metres" and that the first bodies were found at a depth of less than three metres, after which experts from the Institute for Forensic Medicine were also consulted.

The film also showed individual parts of the skulls and human bones that were dug up with spades and shovels.

Minister of Internal Affairs Dusan Mihajlovic said "there is more than one grave" at the location near the police centre in Batajnica, and that the investigation would determine the exact number of victims.

He also said the MUP "has information" indicating that "bodies from Kosovo are buried beneath a highway", but he refused to say what highway, indicating only the Brotherhood and Unity Highway".

The interior minister also said that the MUP's "main sources of information are participants in the events in Kosovo who were paid for their work".

Mihajlovic said that members of the MUP have not brought charges against the top brass of the Yugoslav Army VJ , noting that the "real question" was why CGS Col-Gen Nebojsa Pavkovic "is concocting untruths and accusing individuals in the MUP of something that they did not do".

"What is the military leader who defeated NATO afraid of, and what is he hiding? Why is he denying this? Why does Pavkovic claim that he did not know what was going on in Kosovo when it is known that during the state of war the MUP was also under his command?" Mihajlovic said at the same news conference.

"These are not accusations, nor are we linking him (Pavkovic) to any crime, but it is impossible that during a state of war a commander does not know what is happening in Kosovo," said Mihajlovic.

He also read excerpts from individual orders that Pavkovic issued during the state of war in which it is alleged that certain police detachments were responsible for individual actions in Kosovo-Metohija.

"That clearly indicates who was giving the orders in Kosovo during the state of war, and it is not appropriate for Gen Pavkovic to say that he did not do this and that he is not responsible for it. That is an attempt to shift the burden of responsibility to someone else (the interior minister), who has been attacked by everyone under the sun," Mihajlovic said.

He added that the disagreement between the police and the military on what action to take during the arrest of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic in late March was "overlooked at the request of (FRY President) Vojislav Kostunica," and for that reason no criminal charges were brought against those responsible for that "disagreement."

"It is obvious that this is not enough for Gen Pavkovic and that he wants to accuse the (police) minister of something in which the MUP is not involved," said Mihajlovic, who also showed journalists a decoration made of gold and weighing 700 g with rubies, that Pavkovic intended to award to Slobodan Milosevic.

He added that the identification of the individual perpetrators of "the crimes involving the refrigerator truck and all other crimes will free from collective responsibility all of the citizens of our country and the thousands of innocent policemen and soldiers" who were deployed in Kosovo-Metohija.

"This ministry is not concerned with the VJ or with Gen Pavkovic, but we have the obligation by law to clear up the refrigerator truck case from beginning to end. Our duty is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth," the interior minister said.

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