1 Tuesday, 19 May 2009
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 --- Upon commencing at 9.00 a.m.
5 JUDGE PARKER: Good morning. Ms. Kravetz.
6 MS. KRAVETZ: Good morning, Your Honour. The next witness is
7 Dr. Antonio Alonso. His evidence is relevant to paragraph 75(D)
8 Schedule (D), and 77 of the indictment.
9 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you.
10 [The witness entered court]
11 WITNESS: ANTONIO ALONSO
12 [Witness answered through interpreter]
13 JUDGE PARKER: Good morning, sir.
14 THE WITNESS: Good morning.
15 JUDGE PARKER: Would you please read aloud the affirmation that
16 is shown to you now.
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare to tell the
18 truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
19 JUDGE PARKER: Please sit down. Now, you're receiving an
20 interpretation in Spanish of what I'm saying?
21 THE WITNESS: [No interpretation]
22 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you. Ms. Kravetz has some questions for
24 MS. KRAVETZ: Thank you, Your Honour.
25 Examination by Ms. Kravetz:
1 Q. Good morning, Witness. Could you please state your full name for
2 the record?
3 A. Antonio Alonso Alonso.
4 Q. Sir, what are you by profession?
5 A. I am -- I work at the National Institute of Toxicology and
6 Forensic Sciences at the Institute of Biology
7 forensic biogenetics.
8 Q. And since when have you been working at the national Institute of
9 Toxicology and Forensic Science?
10 A. Since 1984. So therefore it's approximately 25 years that I've
11 been working at the biology service.
12 Q. And very briefly could you explain what are your duties and
13 responsibilities at the institute where you're employed?
14 A. Yes. Basically I work as an expert with the -- at the court, at
15 the legal courts in the fields of genetics and forensic science with
16 three specialisations, the identification of remains, and in criminal
17 investigations through the study of the study of biological remains, and
18 also in paternity analysis, the biological investigation of paternity.
19 This is three main fields in the field of forensic genetics that I work
20 at at the institute.
21 Q. Thank you, sir. Exhibit 65 ter 02501 is your curriculum vitae,
22 and I will not be going into detail since the document speaks for itself.
23 It is a document that you provided to our Office of the Prosecution in
24 2003. I would like to know if there are any updates that you would like
25 to make to your curriculum vitae, any recent changes to your professional
2 A. Well, apart from some other scientific studies which of course
3 aren't listed from 2003 to now. I should point out that in Spain
4 is a new commission of recent creation for the forensic use of DNA. This
5 is an organism that regulates quality issues, bioethical issues, legal
6 issues, and scientific issues of the application of DNA in forensic
7 sciences, and I have been appointed secretary of this commission.
8 Also, in the last two years, I have taken part as an expert in
9 another commission or committee that was set up to develop a national
10 protocol for genetic identification for cases where there are major
11 disasters. So these are the two most recent facts which are not in the
12 CV you have.
13 Q. Thank you.
14 MS. KRAVETZ: Your Honours, I seek to tender the curriculum
15 vitae, this is 02501, into evidence.
16 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
17 THE REGISTRAR: That will be assigned P00798, Your Honours.
18 MS. KRAVETZ:
19 Q. Sir you spoke about your duties at the Spanish forensic institute
20 and you said that you worked in the field of genetic and forensic
21 science. Is DNA
22 if yes, what type of DNA
23 A. Basically, as I said before, the DNA tests are carried out for
24 the purpose of identifying individuals, individuals who have disappeared,
25 or persons who were victims of major disasters; and we also have vast
1 experience in the identification of individuals through the
2 identification of skeletal remains in mass graves.
3 On other occasions we -- we have helped this court with -- in
4 cases relating to the war in Bosnia
5 of the Spanish civil war which took place between 1936 and 1939. This,
6 of course, is material which is far more difficult to work with than the
7 material that we've been able to work for this court. In that case it's
8 because the remains are very, very old.
9 And we also work with another field in forensic genetics is the
10 analysis of very old DNA
11 value. So our centre has a lot of experience, and we have really
12 specialised in the genetic identification of skeletal remains of bones.
13 Q. And is the manner of DNA
14 consistent with industry standards presently?
15 A. In the field of forensic genetics, there is a very high degree of
16 standardisation in terms of the techniques that we can use or in the kind
17 of genetic markers that can be applied to the different kinship
18 relations, genetic kinship relations that we use. We also use systems
19 that have been validated, and these are systems that are used by most of
20 laboratories worldwide.
21 So in brief, the reply is, yes, we do use standardised techniques
22 that have been assessed. And throughout the process we also use a number
23 of controls, positive and negative controls, which indicate how reliable
24 the results are.
25 Also, our centre also engages in a number of exercises to prove
1 its worth, as it were. For example, there are controls carried out by
2 the Spanish and Portuguese group of the -- Spanish and Portuguese group
3 of the National Institute of Forensic Sciences and controls that are
4 carried out with the European network of forensic science institutes.
5 This is the European network that brings together all these institutes.
6 Q. Thank you, sir. Sir, did you prepare four reports on genetic
7 identification of human skeletal remains that were exhumed in 2001 at a
8 location called Batajnica in Serbia
9 A. Yes, indeed.
10 Q. I understand -- I'm sorry, I just got the interpretation. I
11 understand that the last of these reports which is dated
12 17th November, 2004
13 three reports and also some additional information regarding further
14 testings that your institute was involved in with respect to these
15 remains; is that correct?
16 A. Yes, indeed, that is correct. The first three reports are
17 partial reports in the sense that we received different reference
18 samples, and in each of the reports we assessed the samples with samples
19 from relatives that we had received; and the last report is a final
20 report where we have all the results, but we also increase the number of
21 genetic markers, which means that the identification is more reliable,
22 because then the systems -- at the time we had then new systems with far
23 more markers which are -- which make them more reliable. So this is the
24 final report. It is complete as far as all the information that we had
25 at the time.
1 MS. KRAVETZ: Your Honours, I -- this report is 65 ter 02486. It
2 is the report dated 17th November, 2004, and I seek to tender that into
3 evidence. I will not be seeking to tender the first three reports for
4 the reasons that have just been explained by the witness as these are
5 contained within the final report.
6 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you. The report will be received.
7 THE REGISTRAR: And that will be assigned P00799, Your Honours.
8 MS. KRAVETZ: Thank you.
9 Q. Sir, in June of 2006, did you provide some responses to questions
10 that were sent to you by the Office of the Prosecution in relation to the
11 reports that you had prepared and also with -- were in relation to the
12 methodology used by your institute in carrying out its DNA testing?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. And in these responses did you also explain various aspects of
15 your reports?
16 A. Yes. There are a number of aspects that have to do with the
17 tasks and the functions of the institute. There's also explanations
18 concerning the qualifications of the specialists that signed this report
19 with the technical characteristics of the reports; also in terms of
20 quality assurance measures; also with the systems and the standardised
21 methods for the final statistical validation of the -- of the results
22 obtained; also concerning the -- the custody of the samples, of the
23 samples from the skeletal remains; and also the samples from the
24 reference kinship samples. And this is -- these are all the replies that
25 are presented in that later paper.
1 Q. Thank you. Your Honours, I seek to tender this exhibit into
2 evidence. It is 65 ter 02487.
3 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
4 THE REGISTRAR: And that, Your Honours, will be assigned P00800.
5 MS. KRAVETZ:
6 Q. Sir did you also previously testify before this Tribunal in the
7 case of Milutinovic et al.?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Have you recently had a chance to review the transcript of your
10 previous testimony?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. And having reviewed your testimony, would you provide the same
13 answers to the questions that you were asked then if you were asked those
14 questions today?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. Thank you.
17 MS. KRAVETZ: Your Honours, I seek to tender the transcript of
18 the Milutinovic case. This is 65 ter 05259.
19 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
20 THE REGISTRAR: And that will be assigned P00801, Your Honours.
21 MS. KRAVETZ:
22 Q. Sir, I would like to now turn to your report, this is the fourth
23 report from 2004, and ask you some questions about that. Could you --
24 could you first explain how it is that you became involved in the process
25 of genetic identification of the remains that were exhumed from
2 A. Well, Jose-Pablo Baraybar, an anthropologist, contacted the
3 toxicology institute asking us if the institute might help with the
4 genetic identification of different remains, including the remains from
5 Batajnica, and I think that this was the first contact that we had.
6 Afterwards, we received the samples from Batajnica. They were sent
7 directly by the director of the Institute of Legal Medicine of Belgrade.
8 Q. And do you recall the name of the director of the Institute of
9 Legal Medicine of Belgrade
10 A. Yes. It's Dr. Dusan Dunjic.
11 Q. In your report you indicate that you received 56 samples from the
13 identified with a code, a BA code and then a number. Was this number
14 that was assigned to each one of the samples, this reference code, was
15 this assigned by your institute or did the samples come pre-numbered with
16 these -- this reference code from Belgrade
17 A. The samples had already been assigned these codes from Belgrade
18 You can see that in fact in the photograph of each of the containers that
19 included -- containing the samples. There was this identification given
20 to each -- to each of them.
21 Q. And how were these samples sent to you? Did Professor Dunjic
22 personally travel to Spain
23 to you?
24 A. Yes, indeed. Professor Dusan Dunjic personally took them to the
25 National Institute of Toxicology.
1 Q. Now, in your report you also refer to receiving 13 blood samples
2 of reference kin and 11 of which were received from the International
3 Commission of Missing Persons and two from this Tribunal. Based on the
4 material that you received from these different institutions, how many
5 positive identifications were you able to make after you conducted your
6 testing at the institute?
7 A. Now, there's a total of 21 identifications that were carried out
8 on the basis of three kinds of DNA
9 markers, which are inherited at 50 per cent from the parents, the father
10 and the mother. This also through mitochondrial DNA which is inherited
11 only through matrilineal descent; and also there's the analysis of
12 markers in the Y chromosome, which is inherited only patrilineally from
13 fathers to sons.
14 Now, we had analysed different kinship ties. Firstly, relating
15 the samples to the remains to the reference samples. Some of the remains
16 identified were also related to other remains to identify, as it were,
17 chain reactions. It should be borne in mind that among these remains
18 there are family groups, many of them with a considerable number of
19 individuals within the same family group. And there are two cases where
20 the analysis was done through mitochondrial DNA and Y chromosome testing,
21 and in our previous report we had already said that since these kind of
22 markers, mitochondrial DNA
23 in nature that we -- that this should be considered as a preliminary
24 identification, not as a proven or confirmed identification which would,
25 however, be the case for the rest of the identifications indicated in the
2 Q. Now, you referred to having been -- having made 21
3 identifications on the basis of three kind of DNA markers. What about
4 the remainder of the 56 remains that you received? Why were you unable
5 to identify the remainder of those human remains?
6 A. Firstly, I should say, that among the 56 remains we identified 41
7 different profiles. So it means that there are some individuals that are
8 repeated among the samples. That's the first conclusion of this report
9 that from the 56 samples of remains there are 41 individuals there. In
10 fact, there are 10 individuals who are twice and 2 individuals who are
11 there three times. That is, there are cases where there are three
12 remains of the same individual and a number of cases where there are two
13 remains, samples of remains of the same individuals. So the first thing
14 is that from 56 presumed victims this figure would go down to 41, and
15 that's in the report.
16 We have only been able to compare these remains with 13 reference
17 samples. It might well be that part -- that some of the non-identified
18 individuals, they have not been identified because we did not have an
19 appropriate reference sample. There might be other explanations. As,
20 for example, that the 56 victims which the intention is to identify are
21 not among these remains. We don't know what the whole previous work done
22 on these samples was. The anthropological identification which allows a
23 preliminary identification of these remains and thus we cannot know what
24 the reasons are for the non-identification of the other remains.
25 Q. In your report when you're speaking about these identifications,
1 you refer to the expression "cannot rule out the possibility." Can you
2 explain what that means?
3 A. Well, yes. We say we cannot exclude the possibility of such and
4 such an individual being the father or the son or the child of another
5 sample. Having analysed 15 different regions of the DNA, in each of them
6 we have identified the combat ability that might be expected from a
7 father/son or parent/child relationship. Let us remember that this kind
8 of DNA
9 genes and 50 per cent maternal genes. And for each of these regions,
10 there's one variant that we receive from our fathers and -- and another
11 variant we receive from our mothers.
12 So what we're saying is that we cannot rule out this possibility
13 because we see that there is compatibility for each and every one of
14 these regions analysed. Once we have this compatibility for each of the
15 regions, what we do is a statistical assessment of what the probability
16 would be or what the degree of probability would be on the basis that
17 these are indeed the presumed remains as compared to other remains. So
18 this is what we call the likelihood ratio.
19 Q. Okay. Thank you. And in your report you explained that in
20 addition to receiving these remains and the blood reference samples of
21 kin, you also received two documents, a family tree from the ICTY where
22 the family ties between the reference samples and the Suva Reka massacre
23 victims were found and also a table that you received from the
24 International Commission of Missing Persons where again family ties
25 between the difference samples and the victims of this massacre were
2 Can you explain how you used these two documents in the process
3 of genetic identification of these remains?
4 A. Yes. What we do, whether we do a comparative analysis once we
5 have the genetic profiles of the reference samples and the samples of the
6 skeletal remains, is to compare all of them, every single one, and we do
7 this in -- using a blind system, as it were. And once we do that, we can
8 have the genetic compatibility. Once we have the genetic compatibility,
9 if we have one of the reference samples which is part of a family group,
10 we evaluate whether this parent/child relationship identified corresponds
11 to the theoretical information that we have from the family tree.
12 So we try to see if the information that we obtain corresponds or
13 matches the information that we have from the family tree and the
14 information of that nature. So it's like a puzzle. We have different
15 kinds of genetic compatibility, parent/child or siblings, for example.
16 So we try to see them and try to check them and to match them with the
17 family tree. And in all the cases, we have indeed established this
18 genetic compatibility but also the relations, the kinship from the family
20 Q. So if I understand you correctly, you first examined the genetic
21 compatibility and establish the family ties before relying on this, on
22 the family tree and the document received from the commission of missing
23 persons. Would that be correct?
24 A. Yes, indeed, because this is done automatically. The databases
25 using a software to carry out these comparisons which tell us between
1 these remains and this reference sample a compatibility of 50 per cent is
2 observed for each of these DNA
3 parent/child relationship. Once we have that, we go and check it in the
4 family tree.
5 Q. And the actual names of the victims that you were able to
6 identify, those were obtained from the family tree. If I understand
8 A. Yes. In most of the cases we obtained the names from the family
9 trees, the different tables that we have. We have also received the
10 names from the identification of the reference samples.
11 There's one thing I wanted to say: The nomenclature used for the
12 names is not always constant, not always constant, and we mentioned this
13 briefly when we submitted the report, because sometimes or in most of the
14 cases the nomenclature used is surname, then name of the father between
15 brackets, and the given name at the end, but not always. There are some
16 variations on this. Sometimes, for example, it's only the surname and
17 the given name. So the nomenclature is not always wholly standardised.
18 What we have done is to transcribe the information that we received in
19 the family trees, basically, but also the reference samples are
20 identified and it is these names that we have used for the identification
21 of these samples.
22 Q. Thank you.
23 MS. KRAVETZ: Your Honours, the family tree and the document
24 prepared by the International Commission of Missing Persons is
25 65 ter 02500. I'm not going to show it to the witness; he has already
1 explained it. But I seek to tender into evidence.
2 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
3 THE REGISTRAR: That, Your Honours, will be assigned P00802.
4 MS. KRAVETZ:
5 Q. Dr. Alonso, I would like to now move to the responses that you
6 provided to the Office of the Prosecution.
7 MS. KRAVETZ: And if we could have up on the screen page 8 of
8 65 ter 02487.
9 Q. This is a table that is attached to the responses you prepared.
10 In response to a question about the genetic profiles that were used in --
11 with regard to the populations that were used, you indicated that you had
12 used European and Spanish population genetic profiles but that you had
13 later recalculated these profiles based on a database of Kosovo Albanian
14 individuals which had recently been published.
15 If we have -- I would -- do you have the document up on the
16 screen before you?
17 A. Yes, I do. It's right here before me.
18 Q. I would like you to explain the last two columns which are marked
19 LR1 and LR2. If you can explain what the values are contained in those
20 columns represent?
21 A. Yes, indeed. Once we have determined the genetic compatibility
22 between the two samples, what we do is we assess how many times more
23 probable this is vis-a-vis the hypothesis that it is a relationship
24 father/son, mother/daughter, and so on and so forth, vis-a-vis the
25 hypothesis, that there is not that relationship and that it is two people
1 who are not related genetically.
2 Very well, in all the cases we see that that value - and I think
3 in most of the cases it is above and beyond 10.000. What does this mean
4 now? That it is 10.000 more probable that there is that compatibility
5 than the hypothesis that there is -- in the hypothesis that there are two
6 people related vis-a-vis the hypothesis that they aren't.
7 When we say they are not related, what we do is we assess the
8 general population and we see what the probability is that there's an
9 individual who's compatible with this type of compatibility even if he's
10 not genetically related. And, therefore, we need the genetic frequencies
11 of the population. We've done two calculations. Number one with
12 European frequencies, Caucasians from our own institute. And in 2004 we
13 published a database with an Albanian -- Kosovo Albanian populations and
14 we've recalculated indices.
15 In every case there are variations, but from the point of view of
16 final significance, it's not really important in all the cases. We are
17 confirming here that there -- we're at or above an LR of 10.000. Now if
18 we change, if we transform this data this information in terms of
19 probability, of paternity, of maternity, one date of ORLR of 10.000 is
20 equivalent to a possibility of paternity, of maternity of 99.99 per cent.
21 An LR of a hundred thousand is equivalent to 99.999 per cent and so on
22 and so forth.
23 Q. Were there any changes in the identifications, or did this new --
24 use of the new database of the Kosovo Albanian population in your
25 identification process, did that have any impact on your findings with
1 relation to the identification? I'm sorry. Yes.
2 MS. KRAVETZ: I had realised the transcript had stopped, but I
3 did not want to interrupt the witness.
4 Q. If you would wait before responding.
5 I'll just repeat my question. The transcript was not working.
6 Dr. Alonso, what I had asked was whether when you recalculated
7 your results on the basis of this new database of the Kosovo Albanian
8 population, if that had had any impacts on the genetic identification
9 that you had carried out when examining these remains.
10 A. No, absolutely not. In other words, the values are pretty much
11 the same in terms of LR. The calculation has no significance for what we
12 obtained before. Here we only assess the significance, the importance of
13 that compatibility. And in all the cases, we have values that are to be
14 expected or that would be expected. If we consider the relations
15 identified as certain. Therefore, the reply is no, there are no
16 significant variations.
17 Q. Thank you. And given your experience and expertise in the area
18 of DNA
19 carried out by the Spanish -- by your institute, the Spanish forensic
20 institute reliable to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty? I'm
21 talking about the DNA
23 A. Well, it's the degree of reliability that today's genetic
24 technologies that we apply in this area of genetics allow us to arrive
25 at. If you take a look, they are number -- certain numbers here,
1 millions, hundreds of millions in terms of the coefficients and ratios,
2 and that is because we have a reference sample and we have two
3 individuals that could be the mother and the father. In other words,
4 when we have the two parents and a child, the value of those coefficients
5 is much higher and much more reliable than if we only have a mother or a
6 father then the coefficients go down. I repeat that that is what we
7 would expect in relation -- a kinship relation. We understand that
8 beyond -- above and beyond an LR or coefficient of a thousand or 10.000,
9 well, we have high possibility of paternity, at least sufficiently so, so
10 as to say that they're practically proven identifications.
11 Q. Thank you, Dr. Alonso. Those are my questions for you.
12 MS. KRAVETZ: I have no further questions for the witness at this
13 stage, Your Honour.
14 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you very much.
15 Mr. Djordjevic.
16 MR. DJORDJEVIC: Yes, Your Honour. I have some questions for
17 witness. Just to prepare.
18 Cross-examination by Mr. Djordjevic:
19 Q. [Interpretation] Good morning, Mr. Alonso. My name is
20 Dragoljub Djordjevic, and I am the Defence counsel for the accused,
21 Djordjevic. I will have a couple of questions for you, not many. I
22 merely want to clarify certain matters in your expert report which is
23 otherwise of a very high level.
24 You answered my learned friend's question concerning the
25 56 samples sent to you by Mr. Dunjic from Belgrade. We don't know why
1 the mortal remains have not been identified, and this can be interpreted
2 in several ways. Were these -- were you referring to 56 bodies, or were
3 these actually mortal remains to -- referring to a larger number of
4 bodies that originated from Batajnica? In other words, in addition to
5 the 56 bodies, were there other samples as well?
6 A. No. We refer to 56 pieces, units, individual units of skeletal
7 remains. Each one in hermetically sealed container that we received and
8 we know nothing more about them. We don't know to how many people they
9 relate. From those 56 remains, these are 56 samples, after an initial
10 analysis we see that there are 41 genetic profiles. Amongst the 56
11 remains there are 41 people represented there. That is the information
12 we can give you as a consequence and as a result of our genetic testing.
13 We do not know, we do not know how many victims are being looked
14 for. We don't know whether as a result of the preliminary tests done,
15 anthropological tests after the exhumation, there is an approximate idea
16 of what the number of victims was or is.
17 You must remember that we received a unit, a piece of large bone
18 in most cases, so probably there's prior information from anthropological
19 analyses that indicate, and perhaps not in a certain manner or a
20 confirming manner, but that there's information regarding the number of
21 victims to be expected.
22 After the genetic tests of the 56 remains, we know that there are
23 41 individuals. I don't know whether I answer your question.
24 Q. Of course. This is my follow-up question: Does this mean that
25 the 56 remains you received, each and every one of the remains had been
1 assigned a reference number and that had been assigned before the samples
2 reached your hands, I suppose.
3 A. Yes, indeed.
4 Q. I believe that Dr. Dunjic, the director of the forensic institute
5 from Belgrade
6 they were the ones who brought the samples over to you. Is that right?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. Did colleague Dunjic tell you at all or was it -- was it an
9 assumption at the time that each and every one of these remains belonged
10 to a different person?
11 A. I cannot exactly remember what he said, what Dr. Dunjic said at
12 the time. The only thing they asked us to do was to analyse those
13 remains. I don't know whether there was that idea that each one might
14 come from a different individual, a different individual. Frankly, I
15 cannot reply to that question.
16 Q. Does this mean that among the 56 remains there were identical
17 DNAs in respect on -- of some of the samples, or, rather, the DNA of a
18 certain individual was found in several remains?
19 A. Yes, in fact, there were 10 individuals of whom there were two
20 samples or two remains, and two individuals I seem to remember of whom
21 there were three, and the -- the rest, each matched a different
23 Q. There were 56 registered remains that were brought over to you,
24 and you said that they were from long bones mostly. It can be assumed,
25 and you'll agree with me, that Dr. Dunjic, in bringing over the different
1 56 samples bearing different reference numbers, presumed that each and
2 every one of the remains belonged to a different person. Would you agree
3 with me?
4 A. It could be that way, but it could also be that, depending on the
5 circumstances in which the remains are recovered, and depending on
6 whether these are complete skeletons or not, it is very usual that there
7 are doubts and that samples are taken from different parts so that
8 through a technology that allows us to differentiate we differentiate.
9 Oftentimes we receive samples without there being security or
10 knowledge whether it is from different individuals or not, so there can
11 be doubts. This all depends. It depends on the circumstances of the
12 common grave, of the type of remains that are found, whether partial
13 remains or they're complete skeletons, like I said. And therefore this
14 is a difficulty, a primary difficulty in the area of analysis.
15 So there are two reasons based on the supposition that there are
16 56 individuals or whether there are doubts as regards that they are or
17 not 56 individuals. Like I said, that all depends on the difficulty
18 surrounding the remains.
19 Q. This is my next question for you: Having received the evidence,
20 the samples, did you also receive records which would show you from which
21 location and in what way were the remains exhumed to which these
22 reference samples belonged? Did you have any knowledge of these matters
23 when conducting your analyses?
24 A. We did not have any information of the details. We only knew the
25 place, the remains from Batajnica, in other words, and we had an
1 analysis -- or, rather, a chart with possible results, anthropological
2 results, very general. They only identified who might be a man, who
3 might be a woman. And in some cases, because amongst the victims there
4 were children, there were infants, there was also the age, the possible
6 Remember that these types of anthropological analyses are
7 approximate analyses, they're not as reliable as the ones we're
8 determining here today of genetic origin. They are only general. They
9 give approximate ages. They point to the possibility of it being a woman
10 or a man. This also depends on the number of remains found.
11 This is the only information we had at the time. We knew the
12 remains were coming from Batajnica, and we had a small chart pointing to
13 the possibility of somebody being a woman or a man and the approximate
15 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Djordjevic, I'm sorry. As indicated
16 yesterday, we have to adjourn now.
17 I'm afraid, Dr. Alonso, we must interrupt the proceedings for a
18 time. There is a -- a special ceremony that the Judges must attend now.
19 We hope to be able to resume sitting at 10.30, but that will
20 depend precisely on the length of the ceremony. So we apologise for this
21 interruption, but we will adjourn now and resume at 10.30 or as near
22 after that as possible.
23 --- Recess taken at 9.53 a.m.
24 --- On resuming at 10.32 a.m.
25 JUDGE PARKER: Yes, Mr. Djordjevic.
1 MR. DJORDJEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
2 Q. Mr. Alonso, further to what we discussed, I would like to know
3 the following: Would it have helped you had you had complete reports of
4 forensic anthropologists and forensic medicine specialists concerning the
5 remains you received? That's to say, the remains of the individuals who
6 were supposed to be identified.
7 A. Well, the job we did is blind, and that way that's why it gives
8 warranties. We don't need to have that previous information. We obtain
9 the genetic profiles and compare them. What could have been interesting
10 in order to get a better degree of discrimination would have been if we
11 had gotten more reference samples from family. That would have been
12 helpful. But really, in these kind of cases, what we do is we -- we work
13 blind. We access compatibilities, obtain the profiles, and then we
14 compare it with the reference. We go to the trees, and there we can find
15 the kinship relationship that we have identified between a remain and a
16 reference sample and see how it fits within a genealogical tree.
17 So what we do normally with genetic analysis is a comparative
18 analysis that we do blind. For the combined assessment, and this doesn't
19 apply only to this field, but for example for the identification of
20 missing people in great catastrophes. In the end, it's good to actually
21 integrate all the data that we can maybe obtain from radiological
22 analyses, odontological, or genetical, or of prints. But here we have
23 bone remains, and it wouldn't have really helped us since we actually
24 this these -- they were bone remains.
25 Q. Tell me, the first contacts made with you for the work you did
1 for the ICTY were made, in fact, by the forensic anthropologist,
2 Mr. Baraybar. Am I right?
3 A. Yes. He was the one who got in touch with the National Institute
4 of Toxicology, and he asked us whether we could actually carry out this
6 Q. Tell me, who was it who subsequently agreed with you that the
7 first samples should be taken to Madrid? You said that it was
8 Mr. Dusan Dunjic who came, the director of the
9 Forensic Medicine Institute from Belgrade
10 representative of the Office of the Prosecutor at the time. But who was
11 it who arranged for their arrival and their visit to your institute?
12 A. I do not know this information. It was both Professor Dunjic and
13 Mr. William Fulton. Both of them actually arrived at the institute with
14 the samples once the anthropologist told us that they were actually
15 looking for a reputed lab in order to carry out these identifications and
16 that they needed a given specialisation. This happened in 2002. And at
17 that date, not too many labs had the experience we had actually with the
18 analysis of bone remains.
19 So it was actually both of them who established contact with
20 Professor Baraybar, and they went to the institute. We agreed the date
21 for the visit, and they came with the samples.
22 Q. Since at the time there still did not exist a laboratory in
24 engage in any preliminary arrangements with Professor Dunjic as to the
25 type of samples that had to be brought along and the manner in which they
1 were to be transported? In addition, did you discuss the manner in which
2 the samples had to be designated, or was it all the result of an ad hoc
4 A. I don't remember whether before we actually received these
5 samples we actually had a contact with Dr. Dunjic. However, the samples
6 we got from the way they were wrapped and the way they were presented,
7 they were -- this was done in the right way in order to use them as
8 evidence. It didn't look like anything was ad hoc, really.
9 Q. On -- at several places in your report you mention the term
10 "contamination." What does it exactly mean, the contamination of a
12 A. Most of the samples with these many years usually allow for
13 destruction of very small amounts of DNA. These amounts so -- are so
14 small that they can actually be even smaller the amount that we can be in
15 a droplet of a saliva when we speak. That's why we have to develop
16 measures in order to avoid contamination and in order to monitor the
17 possibility of detecting contamination. That's why before extracting DNA
18 the remains are cleaned in the outside surface, in the marrow; as well,
19 they're treated with UV light in order to destroy all possible
20 contamination on the surface.
21 We work under biological security bells in order to avoid
22 contamination from the operator. We also wear special clothes and in a
23 special area to carry out the analysis, which is actually independent,
24 apart from the place where the DNA
25 destructions of DNA
1 And we do all this because we work with a very small amount of
3 polymerase chain reaction, that technique. That technique allows us to
4 amplify quite an important amount of DNA from a very small. And in this
5 process, if we have any contamination, this contamination will be
6 amplified as well. That's why all this work is done this way in order to
7 avoid contamination and also to monitor whether there has been or not
8 some contamination.
9 The DNA
10 All the samples gave us amounts of DNA that were actually above the
11 amount needed with today's techniques.
12 Q. Did you extract the DNA
13 from the dental material contain in the samples that were brought over to
15 Secondly, the samples that were delivered to you, did they
16 exhibit any signs of contamination that may have originated from the time
17 before they came into your hands? And did they exhibit any signs of
18 external -- externally inflicted defects, destruction, or anything of the
19 sort which may have had a bearing on the identification process you
20 embarked on to establish who the samples belonged to?
21 A. As regards the first question, we extracted DNA through -- from
22 the compact tissue. We did not actually have any dental tissue. Dental
23 samples are actually the best DNA
24 The samples we received showed the contamination normal for these
25 kind of samples. These are bone remains that actually have gone through
1 a rotting process that had destroyed the soft tissue. So there is
2 actually bacterial contamination. However, this doesn't affect our
3 analysis, because we only analyse the human DNA.
4 We didn't see any external sign of tampering or destruction of
5 any handling of the samples.
6 Q. Thank you. The autopsy reports which those of us involved in the
7 case had access to, I'm not sure if you had them at your disposal, but,
8 for example, in the Sterenberg Jon report, there is reference to the
9 corpses exhumed from Batajnica, and since I learned from my colleagues
10 who are also experts in this field, I understood that any sort of burning
11 to which remains may have been exposed to could make DNA identification
12 impossible, I would like to know whether any of your samples exhibited
13 any marks of burning or anything of that sort.
14 A. No. At least in the samples we got, in the bone remains we got,
15 we could not see signs of burning. I don't have any knowledge of the
16 autopsy reports. However, when a bone is burned, and it depends on the
17 degree of this burn, sometimes it can be impossible to actually be able
18 to extract any DNA
19 the normal bone colour, and we didn't see any signs of burn.
20 MR. DJORDJEVIC: [Interpretation] I would now like to call up
21 Exhibit D003-0379.
22 Q. This is the statement you gave on the 15th of November, 2008
23 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter's correction: 2006.
24 MR. DJORDJEVIC: [Interpretation]
25 Q. Please tell me, is this the statement you gave, and do you recall
1 giving the statement?
2 MR. DJORDJEVIC: [Interpretation] Can we show page 1 to the
3 witness, please? This is all in English.
4 Q. Let me assist you, Doctor. This is your statement where you
5 spoke of Batajnica, as well as of the Glodjane location. Do you recall
7 A. I do remember. This is my signature. I remember the questions
8 from this interview are not related to the samples from Batajnica that
9 were also taken by Professor Dunjic to Madrid and that they were -- they
10 had different features regarding identification and regarding the state
11 of the remains, so we couldn't proceed with a DNA test. They were left
12 in custody. I think this is related to this case.
13 Q. It is related to this case in terms of the way the investigations
14 into the Kosovo crimes were conducted. What I'd like to know is, At the
15 time when Dr. Dunjic delivered the mortal remains received in Glodjane in
16 Kosovo, whether he was also accompanied by Mr. Fulton,
17 Mr. William Fulton.
18 A. Yes, he was.
19 Q. Tell me, at which point did you establish that the Glodjane
20 remains were contaminated to such an extent that they would not allow for
21 any sort of DNA
22 A. At -- we did not establish that they were so contaminated that
23 they couldn't actually -- contaminated that they couldn't be -- go
24 through a DNA
25 appropriate samples since it was not compact tissue. It wasn't bone, but
1 it was soft tissue that in cases was completely rotten.
2 And also, some of the containers had somehow not too reliable
3 identification. There were some codes that were crossed over with -- and
4 then they had another code that didn't correspond to the first one. So
5 what we did, we just kept these samples in custody, and we put them -- we
6 made them available to the Tribunal.
7 But it doesn't mean that we cannot actually get results from
8 these samples. What I'm saying is that the DNA is going to be
9 deteriorated, and it will be harder to carry out the tests. And in some
10 cases, for example when it was only soft tissue, due to the high degree
11 of the decomposition, we might not be able to get any information out of
13 Q. Thank you, Doctor. I misunderstood this part, but quite
14 understandably so. I am a layperson. Thank you for your explanation.
15 At point 6 of your statement you say that you received the
16 remains from Batajnica with a view to identifying the kinship
17 relationships of the individuals whose mortal remains were given to you.
18 You state there that you weren't given or provided any details. What did
19 you refer to precisely there, that you did not receive any possible
20 indication of the identities, of the identities of their family members,
21 or something quite different? Can you explain this, please.
22 A. When we received the remains, all we knew was that they were
23 remains from a common grave, that genetic analysis was to be done, and
24 that we had some idea as to who could be the victims. And we also got
25 reference samples in order to establish identity. That was all the
1 information we had at the moment, the number of samples that we
2 registered at the centre and the need to carry out a genetic analysis in
3 order to do comparison with reference samples that we would be getting
4 later as we got these samples over time. That's all the information we
6 Q. Thank you. That's clearer now. At page 10 of your statement,
7 which is --
8 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter's correction.
9 MR. DJORDJEVIC: [Interpretation] -- at paragraph 10 of your
10 statement at page 3, you say that you had expected to receive only the
11 samples from Batajnica, and you were surprised to find that you had been
12 furnished with the Glodjane samples as well. Can you tell us why were
13 you surprised to receive both the Batajnica samples and the Glodjane
14 samples, and how did it come about that you in fact received samples from
15 Glodjane? Did you ask any additional explanation as to that?
16 A. Well, I was surprised in the way that the institute was expecting
17 concrete, specific samples, and then on top of these samples we got
18 another set of samples. That, as I said, the institute took pictures of
19 them and kept them frozen in custody, and they are available for the use
20 of the Tribunal. And we didn't analyse them because it was stated in
21 this report and for other aspects that I -- actually we have communicated
22 to the Tribunal.
23 So our centre was expecting some samples, then another set of
24 samples arrived. That's why we were surprised.
25 Q. That's precisely what I wanted to clarify. When your services
1 were hired, I suppose that the discussions taking place between your
2 institute and the ICTY went along the lines of the fact that you would be
3 provided with some samples. Can you tell us something about these
4 discussions that took place and how come -- were you given any sort of
5 explanation as to why you received the Glodjane samples since
6 Mr. William Fulton, a representative of the ICTY, was present at the
8 A. Well, I don't remember exactly what the conversation was at that
9 point. What we did make clear both to Professor Dunjic as to Mr. Fulton
10 was that we were waiting for or expecting the Batajnica samples and that
11 the other samples, of which we had had no knowledge before receiving
12 them, that we would keep them in custody; but I said there were samples,
13 there was a lot of decomposition, putrefaction, that we would keep them
15 Years afterwards we were asked by the Tribunal about those
16 samples. We gave the relevant explanations, and I think that these
17 samples were then analysed by the International Commission for
18 Missing Persons.
19 Q. What I'd like to know in relation to the material received is as
20 follows: For the purpose of your analyses, were you given any sort of a
21 court order, an ICTY order when it came to the Batajnica samples or not?
22 In other words, is there a court order to the effect that you should
23 analyse these remains?
24 JUDGE PARKER: Have you received an interpretation of the
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No, I'm sorry, I didn't hear the
2 interpretation into Spanish of the last question.
3 MR. DJORDJEVIC: [Interpretation] Can I ask the interpreters to
4 tell me if I should repeat the question?
5 THE INTERPRETER: Yes, please.
6 JUDGE PARKER: The answer is yes, Mr. Djordjevic.
7 MR. DJORDJEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you.
8 Q. For the reference bone samples from the Batajnica location, did
9 you receive a court order to conduct your analyses of those samples in
10 line with the highest quality standards employed by your institute?
11 A. Well, I don't know if you could call it a court order, but
12 certainly there was interest from the Tribunal and from -- this had been
13 expressed in our correspondence that this analysis should be carried out.
14 This concerning, for example, with the reference samples that they sent
15 us or with the family trees that they had also sent us. There was
16 interest from the Tribunal that we should carry out these analyses, but
17 there was also Professor Dunjic.
18 So there was, on the one hand, this question from the institute
19 in Belgrade
20 there was a request. There was a request that was made, and the fact
21 that ICTY sent us the reference samples, the additional information, the
22 family trees so that we could carry out the investigations will show
23 clearly that there was an interest there.
24 Q. Did Dr. Dunjic ever send you reference samples of the Glodjane
25 remains, the genealogical trees, and samples of the closest relatives of
1 those whose remains were found in Glodjane and the samples of which
2 remains you had in your possession at the institute?
3 A. At no -- at no time. Neither information or family trees nor
4 reference samples from possible relatives of the victims, no.
5 Q. Did this Tribunal ever show any interest for the Glodjane remains
6 that were sent to you by Dr. Dunjic and Mr. Fulton?
7 A. Yes. A Prosecutor from the Office of the Prosecutor at some
8 point requested information, had asked us for information on those
9 samples and whether analysis could be carried out. We provided them with
10 the information and documentary information of the samples and the state
11 they were in, and we recommended that it should be -- that analysis
12 should be carried out by a laboratory with a high -- with a lot of
13 experience in performing analysis on this kind of sample, on these very
14 difficult samples. And we even suggested that it should be the
15 international commission that should carry out these samples because of
16 the high degree of difficulty.
17 Q. Was the name of the Tribunal employee, Mr. Fernando Triana?
18 A. I think that this was the Prosecutor, the Spanish Prosecutor, who
19 told us on the phone that there might be an interest in these samples. I
20 can't remember exactly, but I think that was the name.
21 Q. Thank you, Doctor. My next question concerning the Glodjane
22 remains is as follows: In item 22 of your statement, you say that the
23 same year that you were contacted by Mr. Triana, that is to say 2006 in
24 March, there was also an investigator of this Tribunal who came,
25 Mr. Harjit Sandhu, who came to Madrid
1 you handed over to him the reference samples from Glodjane which he took
2 away. Did I understand that correctly? Could you please clarify that?
3 That is item 22 and 23 of your statement.
4 A. It wasn't the reference samples, it was the samples of the bone
5 remains. These were the own samples that the institute had, and these
6 were given with the relevant custody document to Harjit Sandhu from the
7 Tribunal, investigator from the Tribunal.
8 Q. After that you were contacted by Mr. Patrick Lopez-Terres
9 inquiring about the samples once they had already left the institute.
10 What was it all about, and who did Mr. Terres work for? This is in
11 item 23 of your statement.
12 A. Now, I don't remember exactly who Mr. Lopez-Terres worked for. I
13 imagine that he worked for the Tribunal.
14 Now, normally when we explain technical issues to people who
15 have -- well, who have no specialised knowledge of the matter, sometimes
16 there are difficulties in terms of understanding. If you see that
17 there's contamination, bacterial contamination or through fungi, people
18 understand that no, it will not be possible at all to obtain DNA. This
19 is not always the case. When we tried to explain at the time that these
20 were samples which -- for which we couldn't ensure that there would --
21 the guarantee that there would be success in obtaining DNA, that it might
22 be very difficult to obtain nuclear DNA
23 is mostly used for this kind of identification. But it might be possible
24 to obtain, let's say, mitochondrial DNA, which is less affected by this
25 kind of contamination by microorganisms. It was this kind of technical
1 explanation that we provided, and this was given together with
2 documentation concerning these samples.
3 Q. Thank you. Answering my questions today, some ten minutes ago
4 you said that once you handed over the mortal remains from Glodjane to
5 the investigator of the Tribunal, that you advised them that the remains
6 could better be analysed given the type of evidence, i.e., that these
7 were not bones but, rather, soft tissue, that a different location would
8 be better suited to analyse them. Which particular scientific
9 institution did you have in mind when you offered that advice?
10 A. Well, I had said this before. We meant basically the
11 laboratories of the International Commission for Missing Persons.
12 Q. Thank you. Probably so. I may have omitted that or failed to
13 understand it. My next question is this: Do you know what the fate was
14 of the remains? Do you know what became of them and what happened with
15 them after you handed them over to the Tribunal representative?
16 A. No, I have no official knowledge of what the ultimate fate of
17 those remains was, but I am a scientific colleague of one of the people
18 responsible for forensic analysis at the International Commission for
19 Missing Persons, Dr. Thomas Parsons; and it is my understanding that
20 these samples were, indeed, analysed at the labs of the International
21 Commission for Missing Persons, but I have no official knowledge of that.
22 Q. Thank you. Mr. Alonso, considering the type, the reference
23 samples were taken from family members, what is the actual importance of
24 that procedure for the job you undertook?
25 A. I'm sorry, I haven't understood your question.
1 Q. The way the reference samples were taken from family members for
2 whom it was presumed were next of kin to those who had been killed, be it
3 in this instance or in some other cases of disasters, the way they are
4 taken, how important is it? How important is the procedure itself for
5 the overall task you aim to conduct?
6 A. Well, of course it is important, and there are two things that
7 are basically important when taking a sample. On the one hand, that the
8 biological sample is to be adequately preserved. Mostly, for example,
9 it's blood samples which are placed on a filter paper and where there's a
10 sufficient quantity to make it possible to obtain DNA reliably and to
11 carry out two analyses, in fact. That's one thing.
12 Secondly, the second thing is the identification of the
13 individual from which the sample has been taken and the chain of custody.
14 In all cases we received samples that had been taken adequately with the
15 appropriate kits, that the containers had been sealed, which we then
16 opened at the laboratory, having inspected the material, the
17 documentation, and so forth.
18 Now, of course the taking of the sample is a very important
19 moment in terms of the identification of the person from whom it was
20 obtained. It is this sample that will be used for the identification,
21 and also again the state of preservation of the sample that is free from
22 any contamination, et cetera, is of particular importance.
23 Q. I will go back to the analyses of mortal remains you undertook
24 concerning the Batajnica remains. You said that you received those
25 reference samples as well as family trees at a later point. As part of
1 what procedure did you obtain those reference samples? Was that through
2 direct contact with your lab, or did you simply get by those samples
3 because they were sent on your request without any additional procedure?
4 A. I seem to remember that in each of the reports that we submitted,
5 and I think the first one was done using mitochondrial DNA with only one
6 reference sample, we had said there once again that we needed more
7 reference samples in order to be able to identify the other samples.
8 All these samples were sent either by FedEx, by courier. They
9 were FedExed or sent by DHL. And I have already said that they arrived
10 in containers which were sealed and perfectly identified. And in our
11 internal -- in our reports on the receipt of these samples there are no
12 comments. There's nothing to point out concerning the state of these
13 samples, the state in which they arrived.
14 Q. Who took those reference samples, and who was the person to send
15 them to you? I suppose they came from the same institution.
16 A. Of the 13 samples that we received, 11, they are -- there's a
17 custody document with the whole -- with all these references. This is
18 from the International Commission for Missing Persons. And two of the
19 samples came directly from this Tribunal.
20 The Tribunal has these documents, and there it is possible to see
21 exactly who it was that took these samples, and the whole chain of
22 custody until they arrived at the lab, and each of these samples, the
23 documentation is signed as well by the person who took the sample.
24 Q. Thank you. My last question for you today has to do with the
25 mortal remains from Glodjane. Once you handed them over to the Tribunal
1 investigator Mr. Harjit Sandhu, did you hand them over according to
2 prescribed procedure in order to spare them of possible contamination,
3 putrefaction, or any other processes of that nature?
4 A. Yes indeed. These samples were quite contaminated already. This
5 contamination from microorganisms is putrefaction, but in any case we
6 prepared -- these samples were delivered in a fridge, in a refrigerator,
7 ice box so as to avoid the -- as much as possible this contamination.
8 Q. Thank you, Doctor. I will not have any additional questions for
9 you today. I thank you for the clarifications you provided for us.
10 MR. DJORDJEVIC: [Interpretation] I would kindly ask that the
11 witness statement of the 15th of November, 2006, be admitted into
12 evidence. It is D003-0379.
13 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
14 THE REGISTRAR: And that will be assigned D00118, Your Honours.
15 MR. DJORDJEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you.
16 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you, Mr. Djordjevic.
17 Ms. Kravetz, any re-examination?
18 MS. KRAVETZ: No, Your Honour. I have no re-examination.
19 Thank you.
20 JUDGE PARKER: Doctor, you'll be pleased to know that completes
21 the questions of you today. The Chamber is grateful that you were able
22 to come to The Hague
23 give and for the detailed reports that you have prepared and which we now
24 have a greater understanding of.
25 You may, of course, now return to your normal affairs, and we
1 thank you once again.
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you, sir.
3 [The witness withdrew]
4 JUDGE PARKER: The next witness is ready, Mr. Behar?
5 MR. BEHAR: Yes, Your Honours. The next witness will be
6 Tahir Kelmendi.
7 JUDGE PARKER: We gather there may be some problem with reading
8 in the case of the witness. Is this a matter of an eyesight difficulty
9 or --
10 MR. BEHAR: I can indicate I'm not entirely sure. There does
11 seem to be an eyesight difficulty. Mr. Kelmendi informed us that he does
12 not have glasses either. So I think if -- if things could be read to him
13 that would certainly be the most convenient.
14 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you.
15 [The witness entered court]
16 WITNESS: TAHIR KELMENDI
17 [Witness answered through interpreter]
18 JUDGE PARKER: Good morning, sir.
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you. Good morning.
20 JUDGE PARKER: Do you sincerely and solemnly affirm that the
21 evidence you will give will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing
22 but the truth?
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes.
24 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you. Please sit down. Mr. Behar has some
25 questions for you, but first it may become very difficult for you to hold
1 that earphone the whole time. If both are pulled in -- oh.
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No problem.
3 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Behar.
4 Examination by Mr. Behar:
5 Q. Yes. Good morning, sir. Thank you very much for coming here
6 today. Can you please state your full name and your date of birth for
7 the record.
8 A. I am Tahir Kelmendi. I was born on the 21st of April, 1954
9 Qyshk, Peja municipality.
10 Q. Thank you. And I understand that you're still living in Qyshk.
11 Is that correct, sir?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. Sir, I understand that on the 22nd of May, 2008, you gave a
14 statement to the Office of the Prosecutor about the events that you
15 experienced in Kosovo; is that correct?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. And have you had the opportunity to have that statement read to
18 you before coming to court today?
19 A. No, I didn't see it.
20 Q. The -- the statement that you gave to the
21 Office of the Prosecutor when we were in your proofing session, did you
22 have a chance to go through that statement with an interpreter?
23 A. Yes, I did.
24 Q. Thank you. And I understand that there are a few things in that
25 statement that you'd like to correct so that it accurately reflects your
2 MR. BEHAR: Can I have up on the screen 65 ter number 05135,
3 please. And I'll be dealing first with paragraph 6.
4 Q. Sir, in paragraph 6 I understand that there may be an issue with
5 the date. I'll just read the section to you. You state:
6 "I remember that on the 25th of April ... the Serbian police
7 came to our village asking to hand over weapons because nobody would ever
8 harm us, and they received one legal held short gun and one hunting
9 rifle, since we didn't have any other weapons in the village."
10 Is that date mentioned there correct or does that require a
12 A. This is correct.
13 Q. Okay.
14 A. The date has to be corrected though. It was on the 17th and not
15 on the 25th.
16 Q. That's right. Thank you, sir, and I think that's clear.
17 Let me take you to one more correction?
18 MR. BEHAR: If we could have paragraph 75 up.
19 Q. In this paragraph, and again I can read it to you, sir, you're
20 describing the killing of Avdi Berisha that you observed. You described
21 him being shot by what seemed to be a sniper. And this statement says:
22 "This particular killing of Avdi Berisha I saw from a distance
23 of not more than 30 metres. I was just on the other side of the stream
24 where Avdi got killed."
25 Is that distance correct or is there a correction or
1 clarification that you'd like to make?
2 A. The distance is 3 metres.
3 Q. So it's 3 metres and not 30 metres; is that correct?
4 A. Yes, yes.
5 Q. Thank you. Sir, are you satisfied that the information that's
6 contained in your statement is true and accurate to the best of your
7 knowledge and belief?
8 A. Yes.
9 MR. BEHAR: Your Honours, I would seek to tender that statement,
11 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
12 THE REGISTRAR: And that, Your Honours, will be assigned P00803.
13 MR. BEHAR: I can now provide a brief summary for the Court of
14 Mr. Kelmendi's evidence.
15 Mr. Kelmendi was born and raised in Cuska.
16 He'll describe how in the early hours of the 14th of May, 1999,
17 he observed Serbian police and VJ surrounding and then entering his
18 village. He will explain that he recognised some of those police
19 officers, including a Mr. Obrnovic, commander of the Klicina police
20 station. He explains how he had seen and spoken with some of these
21 police officers in the recent past.
22 Mr. Kelmendi hid and observed an unfolding massacre and
23 deportation. He watched as the Serb forces separated the men from the
24 women and children. The women were sent to one house where they geared
25 in the courtyard as the house itself was set on fire.
1 He observed as the Serb forces divided the men and sent them in
2 three groups to three different houses, 15 men to the house of
3 Azem Rexha, 12 to the house of Sadik Gashi, and 10 to the house of
4 Deme Gashi.
5 He heard shootings in each of the houses. He then saw Serb
6 forces set fire to those houses using flammable cartridges.
7 He watched as the forces then took the women and children out of
8 the courtyard and loaded them onto tractors, sending them out of the
9 village to Peja.
10 After the Serb forces left, Mr. Kelmendi was confronted with the
11 bodies of his friends, neighbours, and relatives. He helped to hide
12 those bodies, and then to bury them in a large grave.
13 That is the end of the summary.
14 Q. Sir, I do have some questions for you. I'm going to have a
15 number of questions about the 14th of May and the events on that date. I
16 do first have a couple of questions for you about what happened before
17 that day.
18 At paragraph 36 of your statement, you explain that on the
19 13th of March -- actually, pardon me, the 13th of May, in the evening,
20 about 80 refugees came to Cuska from the neighbouring village of
21 Katundi i Ri, and you described that a man named Ranko Vlahovic had been
22 in Katundi i Ri and had told these refugees to come to Cuska because
23 Serbian please would be sending all of the Cuska villagers to Albania
24 next day.
25 My question for you, sir, is can you tell us how it was that you
1 learned that?
2 A. These things were told to me by someone who came there from the
3 Katundi i Ri.
4 THE INTERPRETER: Would counsel please ask the witness to speak
5 closer to the microphone.
6 MR. BEHAR:
7 Q. Sir, I'll just ask you if you can, we have microphones here, if
8 it's possible if you can speak a little bit more closely to the
9 microphone. And we did receive your answer for the last question so
10 that's fine, but I will have some further questions for you.
11 Could I ask you then, did you see these refugees yourself when
12 they came to Katundi i Ri?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. And you mentioned that these things were told to you by someone
15 who came from Katundi i Ri. Is this one of the refugees that you've
17 A. This person is from Katundi i Ri. Suf Tafilaj is his name.
18 Q. You also -- you described this man Ranko Vlahovic. Can you tell
19 us who was Ranko Vlahovic?
20 A. Ranko Vlahovic was the commander of the police station in Ozdrim
22 Q. And can you tell us how you knew that?
23 A. Even before what happened in this village, I used to know this
24 person. I sat with him. I have talked with him.
25 Q. I have some questions now for you about the events on the
1 14th of May itself. You described that at 6.00 a.m. on that morning you
2 were out taking your cattle to the field. You described seeing police
3 and VJ or army surrounding your village, and you described seeing Serb
4 forces coming from the direction of Peja. Can you tell us how far Peja
5 was from your village?
6 A. Peja is about three kilometres away from Qyshk.
7 Q. And you described the uniforms that you saw these forces wearing.
8 You explained in your statement that the Serb forces were wearing
9 camouflage, either with prevailing blue or with prevailing green colours,
10 and you also described them wearing black bandannas and what sounded like
11 face paint. I wonder, can you describe what you mean by that, what they
12 had on their faces that you observed?
13 A. The colour was black with green on the face.
14 Q. You had described seeing Serbian police patrolling the Peja road
15 in police cars, and you described recognising one of those officers as a
16 man named Obrnovic. This is in paragraph 24. Can you explain to the
17 Court who Mr. Obrnovic was and how you recognised him?
18 A. I used to know Obrnovic even before that case, because I had
19 contacts with him. He was a very familiar face to me.
20 Q. And can you tell us who he was, what his position was, if you
22 A. Obrnovic was commander of the Klicina station, police station.
23 Q. And you say that you had contacts with him. Can you explain that
24 for the Court a little bit? Had you spoken with him in the past?
25 A. Not that day, because it was impossible for anyone to approach
1 him that day.
2 Q. I understand that, but how about in the past, in these --
3 A. In the past, yes. In the past, yes, yes.
4 Q. And can you explain the contacts you had had, just briefly, the
5 contacts you had with him in the past? Had you spoken to him before?
6 A. In the past?
7 Q. Yes.
8 A. I was a farmer and always ran into him on my trips to and from
9 Peja, so I knew him personally. I knew who he was.
10 Q. Thank you. In your statement, in paragraph 27, you describe as
11 well that the day before, that would be on May 13th, Mr. Obrnovic had
12 sent another man named Mijo Brajovic to find out whether the villages in
13 Cuska were armed and whether there was any police presence. Can you tell
14 us how you know that -- how you knew that?
15 A. I know this because at 2.00 in the afternoon of the 13th, with
16 Mijo Brajovic I talked. He said to me, "Don't be afraid, because nothing
17 will happen to you."
18 Q. And can you explain what did you understand him to mean by that
19 when he was telling you not to be afraid? What would you have been
20 afraid of?
21 A. As villagers that we were, we shouldn't be afraid of the forces
22 when they came.
23 Q. Did Mr. Brajovic tell you himself that Mr. Obrnovic had sent him?
24 A. Yes. Yes.
25 Q. And did you know as well Mr. Brajovic from before? Was he
1 someone that you had known before you spoke to him on this occasion that
2 you're describing?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. And just before we move on, I know you mentioned the Klicina
5 police station that Mr. Obrnovic was the commander of, can you tell us
6 where the Klicina police station or where this town was in relation to
7 Cuska, your village?
8 A. It must be about 6 or 7 kilometres away from my village.
9 Q. Okay. And how about Ozdrimi?
10 A. Ozdren is on the other side. It links Mitrovica with Peja. It's
11 another -- this is another station that links Peja with Prishtina. This
12 Klicina is on the road Prishtina-Peja. Ozdren is on the road that links
13 Mitrovica with Peja.
14 Q. Thank you. You describe in your statement that civilians in your
15 town were gathered in the centre of the village, and you described in
16 paragraph 41 that you didn't go there to the centre of the village, that
17 you were watching from about 50 metres away. Can you explain to the
18 Court where you were watching from?
19 A. I was 50 metres away from what was happening. After the house of
20 Deme Gashi.
21 Q. And when you say "after the house of Deme Gashi" - that's how it
22 was interpreted to us - were you on the other side of the house, or can
23 you explain more where you were?
24 A. I was behind the house.
25 Q. Thank you. You described, as well, that the men were separated
1 from the women. Can you explain how this was done, how they were
3 A. The police forces separated men from women when they came to the
4 village. They asked them to hand over their identity cards, to throw on
5 the ground their money, everything they had on them, the jewellery,
6 everything. Then after that they separated them in three groups. The
7 first group they sent to Azem's house, the second to Sadik Gashi's, and
8 the third to Deme Gashi's where I was -- behind which I was standing.
9 Q. Now, I'll have some detailed questions for you about what
10 happened next. Let's deal first with the group of women that you've
11 mentioned. And first, can I ask where were the children? Were there
12 children there as well?
13 A. Yes, yes.
14 Q. And where were the children divided? Were they divided as part
15 of that group as well?
16 A. Yes. The women and the children were sent to Sali Rexha Gashi's
17 house. They were burnt. And then they put these people in Sali Rexha
18 Gashi's house --
19 Q. Okay.
20 A. -- after they burnt house.
21 Q. Let me just go through that then a little bit more slowly. I
22 know you explained in your statement that the women and children were in
23 the courtyard and that as you've just explained that Sali Rexha's house
24 had been set on fire. Can you explain to us who set the house on fire
25 and how that was done?
1 A. The force, the very forces that separated men from women.
2 Q. And did you observe how the house was set on fire, this house?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. And can you explain to the Court what you saw, how that was done?
5 A. When they separated women and children, they sent them there, but
6 first they set fire to it with those inflammable things they had. And
7 then they sent the women and children there to see the terror that was
8 taking place.
9 Q. Are you able to explain -- you've explained that they had these
10 inflammable things or devices. Can you explain what you saw and how it
11 was exactly, if you saw this, how they set that house on fire?
12 A. I don't know how to explain it to you. It was a kind of round
13 thing, a cartridge, I think. It was like a bottle, in the shape of a
14 bottle, and with that thing they set the houses on fire.
15 Q. Thank you. Let me ask you some questions now about what happened
16 with the men. I know you described briefly for us today and also in your
17 statement the Serb forces dividing the men. Are you able to explain to
18 us in a bit more detail how the men were divided by the Serb forces?
19 A. Yes. They divided them in three groups. The first group was
20 taken to the house of Sali Rexha Gashi, the second group to the house of
21 Sadik Gashi, the third to the house of Deme Gashi. After they took them
22 inside, you could hear the rifle shots; and immediately after that, they
23 set the house on fire to do away with any trace.
24 Q. And I'll -- I'll follow that up again with you, sir, in some
25 detail. Before we do that, can you tell us how far apart these houses
1 were from one another?
2 A. The house of Sadik from Deme's house are about 30 metres from
3 Deme's, from Azem's house are about 70 metres apart.
4 Q. And I notice that in your statement you sometimes refer to the
5 house of Azem Gashi and other times you refer to the house of Azem Rexha.
6 Can you tell us, are those the same people, or is that the same person?
7 A. Yes. Azem Rexha Gashi has father's names -- name and his last
8 name. That's why I refer to him by that name.
9 Q. Thank you. I think that's clear. Can you tell us as well which
10 house did Syl Gashi normally live? I know at times you've referred to
11 his house. Was that the same house as one of those three?
12 A. Syl Gashi is the son of Azem Rexha Gashi, but we called him
13 Muharrem. In the papers his name was recorded as Syl.
14 Q. So would it be correct, then, that the house of Syl Gashi is the
15 same as the house of Azem Gashi?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. Let me take you through now, if I can, what happened to these men
18 with each house. If we can deal first -- you describe in your statement
19 in paragraph 56 the first shootings being heard in Azem Gashi's house.
20 Can you explain to us what you saw and heard with respect to that house?
21 A. When they took the first group there, I heard automatic rifle
22 shots and then saw the flames after five minutes to burn the bodies.
23 Q. And you say that you saw flames. Did you see how that fire was
25 A. Not at Azem's house, because it was impossible to see who set the
1 fire; but after five minutes, I could see the flames and the smoke.
2 Q. You describe the next firings that you saw and heard being in
3 Sadik Gashi's house. Can you explain what you saw and heard there?
4 A. The second group was taken to Sadik Gashi's house, and they did
5 the same thing as the first case. They killed and burned them. And
6 among them I saw Hazir with his broken leg trying to walk away from that
8 Q. And the third set of shootings that you described in your
9 statement was at Deme Gashi's house. Can you explain to the Court what
10 you heard and saw there?
11 A. They brought ten men to the house of Deme Gashi, took them inside
12 the house, killed them with automatic rifles, and Rexhe Isuf Kelmendi
13 managed to survive. He was in the room. It was his luck to survive the
14 shooting. He escaped from the window.
15 Q. And I'll have some questions for you as well about what you saw,
16 what happened in the aftermath. Before I go there, just so that we're
17 clear, can you explain again how far you were from these houses when you
18 made these observations? Were you in the same place that you described
20 A. I was 50 metres behind Deme's house. I was lying on the ground.
21 Q. Are you able to describe the -- the forces, the people who were
22 doing these acts, who were firing these shots and who were burning these
24 A. These people were dressed in police and army uniforms.
25 Q. And can you describe for us what those uniforms looked like?
1 A. Blue and green camouflage, but the faces I couldn't see properly
2 because it looked like horror movies, like the Ninjas.
3 Q. And when you say like Ninjas, is that because of the bandannas?
4 Am I understanding that right?
5 A. From the face you could say that. All my life I have never seen
6 such horror-stricken faces, never.
7 Q. Sir, can you tell us who Qash Lushi was?
8 A. Can you repeat the question, please?
9 Q. Yes. Can you tell us who Qash Lushi was? Was he one of your
10 fellow villagers?
11 A. No. His name is Qaush Lushi, with "ch".
12 Q. Yes. Thank you. Qaush Lushi, can you tell us who he was? Was
13 he one of your fellow villagers?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. Can you tell us what happened to him?
16 A. Yes. That day when they divided men from women, in order to save
17 his son from the massacre they asked him to pay them 100.000 euros, and
18 he asked his wife to go and fetch the money. He gave the money, then the
19 son was massacred, and Qaush was slit on his neck in front of the house
20 where the first group was executed.
21 Q. I think we may have had a problem just with the interpretation on
22 the last part. You said something about his neck. Can you explain what
23 happened after he gave the money?
24 A. They slit his throat.
25 Q. Did you see that yourself or how you did you learn that?
1 A. Yes, yes. I saw it with my own eyes. They put him in the
2 toilet, and they cut off his head with a Kalashnikov.
3 Q. Can you tell us how far approximately you were from that when you
4 made that observation?
5 A. I was behind the house of Deme Gashi, and the distance from the
6 site of the event was about 60 metres, because the toilet was located on
7 the lower part in the same direction where I was lying.
8 Q. When you say toilet, is this the toilet in a house or is this an
9 outhouse? Can you explain?
10 A. It was an outhouse in Azem Gashi's yard. It was Azem's toilet in
11 the yard.
12 Q. And again, just so we're entirely clear, can you explain who it
13 was who was doing this, who it was who killed him?
14 A. The same persons that were there in Qyshk's massacre.
15 Q. Thank you. Sir, I do have some more questions for you about
16 that, but I see that we're nearing, I think, the time for a break.
17 JUDGE PARKER: That is so, Mr. Behar.
18 We must have a break now, and we resume in half an hour. The
19 court officer will assist you during the break. We will resume at 12.30.
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you.
21 --- Recess taken at 12.01 p.m.
22 --- On resuming at 12.32 p.m.
23 JUDGE PARKER: Yes, Mr. Behar.
24 MR. BEHAR: Thank you, Your Honours.
25 Q. Sir, when we left off, you had just finished telling us about
1 this murder that had taken place, or this killing that had taken place in
2 an out house.
3 MR. BEHAR: Can I have up Exhibit 05258, please, on the screen.
4 I'll need photo number 6. It's not coming up. 05258.
5 Just a moment's indulgence, Your Honour. I think there's an
6 issue with the exhibit.
7 [Prosecution and case manager confer]
8 MR. BEHAR: Just while that's being resolved, perhaps I'll try to
9 come back to that. Perhaps we can have up P00772 from earlier in this
11 Q. Sir, there's a photo of a man -- can you see the photo on your
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. There's one of the men depicted in that photo in the centre at
15 the top or at the back. Can you tell us, do you know this man, sir? Do
16 you know who that is?
17 A. The one in the middle? Yes. This is Salipur, and he was an
18 active policeman in Peja.
19 Q. Can you tell us how it is that you know him?
20 A. I know him because on the 26th of March, Ram Xhemajli Kelmendi in
21 Qyshk, he was 98 years old and he was killed by him.
22 Q. Is that something you saw or did you hear about that from
24 A. Uk Kelmendi, Ram Xhemajli's son told me the next day.
25 Q. Had you had any dealings with Mr. Salipur in the past, and can
1 you explain how you came to know who he was?
2 A. He was a very dangerous person. He was a very serious and
3 well-known criminal in the Balkans.
4 Q. And had you seen him in your town or nearby?
5 A. I used to see him in Peja, because he was an active policeman in
6 Peja for a long time.
7 Q. And just in terms of timing, can you say when you would see him?
8 Is this the same year? Is this the previous year?
9 A. Before the war in Kosova I used to see him several times. Not
10 just once, several times. His name was Munja. He was a very dangerous
12 Q. Thank you. Returning to -- to the events of May 14th that you
13 were describing for us, you explain at paragraph 61 and 62 of your
14 statement that Serb forces at this point, after these -- the shootings
15 and the burnings of the three houses with the men in them, that after
16 that took place, the Serb forces took the women and children out of
17 Sali Rexha's yard, loaded them onto tractors and sent them to Peja. Can
18 you tell us, sir, were your wife and children in that group of women and
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Did you see the convoy leave yourself? Did you see this group of
22 people leave yourself?
23 A. Yes, on tractors.
24 Q. Can you tell us what direction they headed in?
25 A. They were directed towards Albania
1 had done and hide the bodies of the people that had -- they had killed in
2 Qyshk. They directed the people towards Peja, and then they told them to
3 go back up to Zastava and then they told them to go once again in the
4 same direction three times.
5 Q. And I know that what you're describing now you also described in
6 paragraph 64 of your statement. Can you tell us how it is that -- that
7 you know that, that you know where the convoy was going and when?
8 A. My wife, my son, and two daughters were there where the tragedy
10 Q. Now, I -- I'd like to, if I can, now, sir, focus on the
11 observations that you made of those houses where the men had been and
12 what you saw after the Serb forces left. Can you tell us, sir, what it
13 is that you saw, what observations you made of those houses and of your
14 fellow villagers?
15 A. In the beginning I was following what was going on when
16 Avdi Berisha was killed right before my eyes. I returned to the place
17 where I was earlier, and I tried to bring the bodies out so that they
18 would not burn, because I knew that today would come, today that I would
19 be able to tell the story. There was such a big fire that it was
20 impossible to tell whether there had been bodies there or not.
21 Q. So perhaps we can discuss your observations of the houses
22 individually. Can you tell us what observations you made at this time,
23 after the forces had left and you went to see the house, at the house of
24 Azem Gashi. Can you describe what you saw there?
25 A. I found the bodies burning. Flames were coming out of them. I
1 thought I would go crazy. I could see the bodies moving because they had
2 not died yet. They had been burnt alive, even though they had been shot.
3 Q. Were there any survivors from that house, the house of
4 Azem Gashi?
5 A. Only Hazir Berisha in Sadik Gashi's house. Ninety-five per cent
6 of the others had been charred. Even two hours later, when I went there,
7 the bodies were still, some of them, moving.
8 Q. I know you mentioned Mr. Berisha and Sadik Gashi's house. Can
9 you explain what observations you made in that house at Sadik Gashi's
11 A. The men were taken there. They were killed and then set on fire.
12 Hazir Berisha is a survivor. He had been injured on his leg, and he
13 tried and managed to climb out of the window and escaped.
14 Q. Did you observe that yourself? Did you see his escape?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. And did you see Mr. Berisha afterwards as well, after he had
17 escaped the house?
18 A. No. It was impossible, because he went into the wheat field.
19 Behind the house of Sadik Berisha there was this wheat field, and that's
20 where he went.
21 MR. BEHAR: Can we have up photo -- sorry, Exhibit P00797,
22 please. And I need photograph number 4.
23 Q. Just a moment, sir. It's not this photo I'll ask you about, but
24 another one.
25 Sir, do you recognise the building that's being shown in this
1 photo here, what's left of that building?
2 A. This is Sadik Gashi's house, and the person here is Hazir Berisha
3 from Qyshk, the one who survived the massacres -- the massacre when the
4 Serb and Slav forces executed them.
5 Q. Thank you, sir. Finally, I would ask you about any observations
6 you made afterwards at the house of Deme Gashi. Are you able to explain
7 what you saw in that house, in the aftermath of the shooting and the
8 burning that you described?
9 A. The same situation as in Sadik's house. Ten men were taken into
10 the house. They were killed and then set on fire.
11 Q. Let me ask you, sir, in paragraph 57 of your statement you speak
12 about the survivors of these massacres. I'll just read that to you. You
14 "Later on I learnt that Isa Gashi survived execution in the
15 house of Azem Rexha. Then Hazir Berisha survival or survived from the
16 killing in the house of Sadik Gashi, and Rexhe Kelmendi survived
17 execution in the house of Deme Gashi."
18 I know you described seeing Mr. Berisha escape. Are you able to
19 tell us how you knew that Isa Gashi and Rexhe Kelmendi survived?
20 A. Rexhe Isuf Kelmendi climbed out of the window, because when they
21 were taken inside, the policeman ordered him to take the matches and set
22 the house on fire, and then after that, he climbed out of the window and
24 Q. And can you explain how it was that you learned what you just
25 told us? Is that something you saw, or did someone tell you that?
1 A. Rexhe, when he came out of the window, I saw him. I was 50
2 metres away from the window and from the house, and I beckoned to Rexhe
3 to come to where I was, because otherwise he would have been caught and
5 Q. And how about with Isa Gashi? Is that something that you saw
6 yourself, or was that explained to you, or how did you learn about his
8 A. I could not see Isa because Isa was 60 or 70 metres away from the
9 place I was, but after we were trying to take the bodies away from the
10 houses on fire, I met him and he told me what happened to him.
11 Q. So you've mentioned now taking the bodies away, and I wanted to
12 ask you some questions about that as well. I know that in paragraph 70
13 of your statement you describe hiding the bodies of the people who had
14 been killed. Can you explain to the Court why you felt that you needed
15 to hide these bodies and who you were hiding them from?
16 A. From the police, because they wanted -- they were interested to
17 cover up everything. They wanted to burn them and -- so that nobody
18 would know what had happened there, destroy the traces, all of them.
19 Q. Are you able to explain to the Court how you hid those bodies?
20 A. Yes. When they were killed, and then burnt, myself, with the
21 help of Mustaf Krizbuki [phoen] and some other villagers, we managed to
22 pull the bodies away. It was impossible to bury them on the same day
23 because there were civilians. 1.240 people were sheltered there. And I
24 took plastic sheets, wrapped the bodies individually, and then we opened
25 a big grave and buried them there all together.
1 Q. Thank you, sir. You mentioned a little while ago in your
2 testimony the name Avdi Berisha. Can you explain to us what happened to
3 Avdi Berisha?
4 A. When I was observing the police forces leaving Qyshk, because I
5 knew that they would go to Pavlan because Qyshk and Pavlan are very close
6 to each other, next to each other, Avdi's house was about 60 metres from
7 the asphalt road, and he was killed by a -- by a sniper 3 metres away
8 from me, right in front of my eyes. A police sniper killed him.
9 Q. And again just so we're clear, did you observe him being shot by
10 the police?
11 A. Yes.
12 MR. BEHAR: Your Honours, if I could just have a brief
13 indulgence. I just wanted to check on the status of that exhibit I was
14 trying to show earlier.
15 [Prosecutor and case manager confer]
16 MR. BEHAR: I apologise for the interruption. It's being worked
18 Q. Sir, I wanted to ask you as well. You described people on this
19 day, on the 14th of May, being set out -- sent out, deported from the
20 village of Cuska. I wanted to ask if you yourself had ever made any
21 observations prior to these days, before this time, of any other
22 Albanians who were travelling in a large group like that.
23 A. Yes. People in Peja suffered more than us in Qyshk.
24 Q. And are you able to explain what it was that you saw, what
25 observations you may have made of people from Peja?
1 A. I saw the convoys going towards Montenegro in order to escape.
2 Q. And can you describe where you were when you made those
4 A. All the time I was moving around because I wanted to know what
5 was going on and what was happening to the Albanian people.
6 Q. So were you making these observations from Cuska, from your
7 village, or where did you make them from?
8 A. No, closer, because I could see the fire and the smoke. I had
9 never before and never since seen in my life such fire and such smoke.
10 Q. So I'd like to focus on that a little bit then. Can you explain
11 where you were seeing this fire and smoke?
12 A. I was a shepherd, I had cattle, and I saw everything that the
13 Serbs did. What they did, what they burnt, how they forced the
14 population out to go through the fields.
15 Q. But again just so we're clear, is what you're describing, was
16 that in Peja that you saw that? I'm just trying to help the Court to
17 understand where this was that you were seeing things.
18 A. I saw these things in Peja, and people also told me how they had
19 been expelled. There was great confusion.
20 Q. Are you able to tell us then, I know you mentioned a convoy
21 earlier, are you able to explain what that looked like? And by that I
22 mean approximately how many people you saw and how they were travelling.
23 A. There was a large number of people. There were cars, tractors.
24 It was an extraordinary number of people. From the town people were
25 walking or going to some other place, and if people are in such great
1 numbers, it's easy to see them.
2 Q. And did you see this on the road somewhere or where were the
3 people walking?
4 A. Peja's exit towards Montenegro
5 it's a flat area. You can see everything from the field.
6 Q. And are you able to tell us when you made these observations?
7 A. I can't remember the exact date. However, this happened before
8 the Qyshk massacre. As I said, the exact date escapes me. They expelled
9 the people, and they burned the whole town.
10 Q. Would this have been in the same year as the Qyshk massacre you
11 described? Can you give us a rough approximation? Was it months before,
12 a year before?
13 A. Yes. In the same year. I think it was not even one month
14 before, but as I said, I can't remember the exact date.
15 Q. And I just wanted to clarify an earlier answer. When I had asked
16 you did you see the road or where was this road that you were describing,
17 you described Peja's exit towards Montenegro
18 again so we're clear. Can you explain where -- where this road was?
19 Maybe -- maybe it's best to explain where it was in relation to Peja and
20 to Cuska.
21 A. The road Peja-Mitrovica, 3 kilometres out of Peja, there is this
22 arrow that shows the direction towards Montenegro, and that's where I saw
23 the people who were travelling, who were going in that direction.
24 Q. Thank you. And just one more clarification question about this
25 area. When we're talking about Peja, are you referring to the town of
1 Peja itself or to the larger municipality? Are you able to explain that?
2 A. The town.
3 Q. Thank you. I do just briefly have two exhibits or two
4 photographs I'd like to show you. If I could just have a moment.
5 [Prosecutor and case manager confer]
6 MR. BEHAR: I wonder if it's possible to put these up on the
7 ELMO. I can explain, Your Honours. These were part of the previous
8 65 ter number -- okay. It's up already. I see.
9 These were part of the previous 65 ter number. I understand they
10 were deleted when they were briefly put in. Actually, if I could have
11 the other photograph first.
12 Q. Sir, you were discussing earlier in your testimony this killing
13 that took place in the outhouse, and I'm wondering if you're able to
14 identify this structure that we're seeing here.
15 A. I cannot see it. Ah, yes. This is the place where Qaush Lushi's
16 head was cut off. This outhouse is about 15 metres away from the house.
17 His head was cut off with an automatic rifle, and on these panels here,
18 boards, you can see the bullet holes that cut -- of the bullets that cut
19 his head.
20 Q. And perhaps we could have the other photo up now as well, sir. I
21 believe this is just a close-up of what you've just described. Are those
22 the bullet holes that you were referring to?
23 A. Yes. This is the bullets that cut off his head, because he paid
24 a hundred thousand euros and his son Astrit was killed, and then he
25 himself was killed in this outhouse.
1 Q. Yes. Thank you, sir.
2 MR. BEHAR: Your Honours, I would seek to tender those
4 JUDGE PARKER: They will be received.
5 THE REGISTRAR: And they would be assigned P00804, Your Honours.
6 MR. BEHAR: Those are my questions for you, sir. Thank you very
7 much. And my learned friend on the Defence will have some questions for
8 you now.
9 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Djordjevic.
10 MR. DJORDJEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour. If I
11 may have a moment for preparation, please.
12 Cross-examination by Mr. Djordjevic:
13 Q. [Interpretation] Mr. Kelmendi, good afternoon. My name is
14 Dragoljub Djordjevic. I appear on behalf of the accused, Mr. Djordjevic.
15 I have a few questions for you in order to clarify some of the facts that
16 you were asked about by my learned friend, Mr. Prosecutor.
17 Mr. Kelmendi, what is your profession or vocation?
18 A. I am a farmer.
19 Q. What is your educational background?
20 A. Eight years of schooling.
21 Q. How did you get in touch with the Prosecutor's office of
22 The Hague Tribunal, since I can see that you provided your first
23 statement in 2008, on the 22nd of May.
24 A. I met them earlier as well, because eight members of my family
25 were burned in the fire as Albanians.
1 Q. When was the first time that you provided any sort of statement
2 by -- to this Tribunal? Is that the statement that was tendered dated
3 the 22nd of May, 2008?
4 A. No, it was earlier. When NATO forces entered and Kosova was
5 liberated, I gave an interview at the site where the massacre happened.
6 Euro News also reported on the massacre on television.
7 Q. Mr. Kelmendi, are you sure in 1999 when you say NATO entered
8 Kosovo that you provided a statement to representatives of the
9 International Tribunal, or was it to representatives of some other
10 international organisation?
11 A. I gave statements to the people who were interested to know about
12 the Qyshk massacre. I don't know why those statements are not reflected
14 Q. Do you know which organisations those people represented to whom
15 you gave a statement concerning the Cuska massacre?
16 A. I don't know. I was distressed at the time because of the things
17 I had experienced and the things I had seen committed by the Serb forces.
18 It was unimaginable what they did.
19 Q. I'm sorry about that, but I would still like to ask you whether
20 you remember that in 1999 you gave any kind of statement to any
21 representatives of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former
23 A. Italian KFOR knows this better.
24 Q. Thank you, Mr. Kelmendi. Am I right in saying that your village
25 is actually in the outskirts of the town of Pec?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Thank you. Can you describe where your house was exactly in
3 relation to the road between Pec and Pristina from the direction of Pec?
4 A. My house is 300 metres far from the asphalt road as the crow
6 Q. Thank you. Do you know who Hazir and Fadil Berisha are?
7 A. Yes. They are my co-villagers from Qyshk village.
8 Q. When you referred to the person leaving the house of Sadik Gashi
9 that was on fire, was it one of the two people that we are discussing
10 here now?
11 A. Hazir Berisha is the name.
12 Q. My question is this: The person you saw leaving the house of
13 Sadik Gashi that was afire in May 1999, being the only person to survive
14 the shooting in the house, do you know who that person was?
15 A. This person is Hazir Berisha, the person who was one of those
16 killed. He is a living testimony to the massacre when the forces acted
17 against them.
18 Q. Did I understand you correctly? Are you saying that that person
19 was killed?
20 A. Hazir escaped with a broken leg, and with his body in flames he
21 managed to escape the massacre. I explained this even earlier.
22 Q. Thank you. I understood you to be saying something else. I
23 apologise. How far was the house of Hazir and Fadil Berisha from your
25 A. It is interesting, but Hazir's house is in another street. Mine
1 is in another street. But as the crow flies, we are about 300 metres
2 away from each other.
3 Q. Thank you. Would you be able to do something for me on a clean
4 sheet of paper or perhaps with the assistance of some technical equipment
5 that this Tribunal has, to -- would you be able to indicate where the
6 Gashi house was as well as the house of Hazir and Fadil Berisha, and
7 where were you exactly when you witnessed the events of the
8 14th of May, 1999? Would you be able to make a sketch, first of all
9 Hazim Gashi house, Fadil Gashi house, and the place where you were at
10 observing everything.
11 A. Yes, yes.
12 MR. DJORDJEVIC: [Interpretation] I would kindly ask the usher to
13 assist the witness so that he would be able to use the electronic pen in
14 order for him to be able to make a sketch as regards the house of
15 Azem Gashi, then Sadik Gashi's house, as well as the house of Deme Gashi
16 and to mark these houses with the letters A, S, and D respectively.
17 JUDGE PARKER: I think it's going to be more practical with
18 paper, Mr. --
19 MR. DJORDJEVIC: [Interpretation] [No interpretation]
20 [In English] Obviously.
21 Q. Please put a square where the house of Azem Gashi should be, and
22 put a letter A next to it. And the next square where Sadik Gashi's house
23 should be and mark it with an S. And make a third square representing
24 the house of Deme Gashi, and you mark it with a D. Also put another
25 square or circle, mark it with an X, to reflect the position that you
1 were at.
2 A. Can you please repeat the question?
3 Q. It wasn't a question, actually, although I will have a question
4 afterwards. But on this piece of paper please put squares to indicate
5 the houses of Azem, Sadik, and Deme Gashi, where the events took place.
6 Mark the house of Azem Gashi with an A, the house of Sadik Gashi with an
7 S, and the house of Deme Gashi with a D. Also put a circle and mark it
8 with an X to mark the spot where you were. That is what I wanted to ask
10 A. [Marks]
11 Q. Could you also please mark the place where the outhouse was.
12 JUDGE PARKER: One at a time. Yes.
13 MR. DJORDJEVIC: [Interpretation] Very well.
14 Q. First of all, the house of Azem Gashi, put an A.
15 JUDGE PARKER: The three houses are marked.
16 MR. DJORDJEVIC: Okay.
17 JUDGE PARKER: Now you want to put an X with a circle to show the
18 location where the witness was.
19 MR. DJORDJEVIC: That's correct, Your Honour.
20 JUDGE PARKER: And then one further thing. Beyond the X, what
21 else did you want marked, the outhouse?
22 MR. DJORDJEVIC: [Interpretation] Yes, the outhouse where Qaush, I
23 believe, was killed.
24 JUDGE PARKER: It's already marked. The witness is well ahead of
1 MR. DJORDJEVIC: [Interpretation] What about the position X? I
2 don't see that? Where was the witness?
3 Q. What are you indicating? Is that the place where you were?
4 A. I was here, behind the house. From here I could see that they
5 gathered the people here, and then they took to Azem's house. I was
6 lying here all the time. I saw everything from the beginning to the end.
7 JUDGE PARKER: Would you please be able to mark with an X in a
8 circle where you were near the house.
9 THE WITNESS: [Marks]
10 MR. DJORDJEVIC: [Interpretation]
11 Q. If I understand this correctly, you were behind Deme Gashi's
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. Thank you.
15 MR. DJORDJEVIC: [Interpretation] I seek to tender this drawing.
16 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
17 THE REGISTRAR: And that will be assigned D00119, Your Honours.
18 MR. DJORDJEVIC: [Interpretation]
19 Q. The next thing I would like to ask you is this: What is the
20 distance between the place where you were and Deme Gashi's house,
22 A. It is about 14, 15 metres. Of course I could -- I didn't measure
23 it, but I tried to come as close as possible to the place of event. I
24 saw Azem's son in the crowd, and I tried to go as close as possible.
25 Q. How far is Deme Gashi's house from the house of Azem Gashi, in
1 your opinion.
2 A. About 60 to 70 metres.
3 Q. How far is Deme Gashi's house, in your opinion, from the house of
4 Sadik Gashi?
5 A. Very close. They are separated by the main road that goes to
6 Azem. Maybe 40, 50 metres, not more than that.
7 Q. How far is Sadik Gashi's house from the house of Azem Gashi? In
8 your opinion.
9 A. Maybe a little bit more, because Sadik's house is near the
10 graveyard, on a lower place. I don't know what to say. They are very
11 side by side. Neck to neck I would say, but I never measured it. I
12 don't want to give you an exact figure because I am not a surveyor, a
13 land surveyor, to measure it.
14 Q. Thank you. In any case, that was not my intention. I wanted to
15 hear your opinion about the distances.
16 The outhouse, I see that the closest house to it was the house of
17 Azem Gashi. How far is it from that house, in your view?
18 A. The outhouse might be 10 metres away from Deme's house. So I
19 would say 40, 50 metres.
20 Q. The usher took away your drawing, but I saw a number there, a 10.
21 Did you put that to indicate the distance between the outhouse and the
22 house itself? I can see that on the drawing, and the paper is being
23 brought to you.
24 A. Number 10 shows the distance between the outhouse. It was a
25 public outhouse for the village. It was 10 metres far from Azem's house,
1 outside the road, this outhouse.
2 Q. Thank you. The place behind Deme Gashi's house where you were,
3 was there any growth there, tall grass? Is it a flat area, a depression?
4 What does that location look like right behind Deme Gashi's house?
5 A. It is a canal. There are growth -- green growths. It is a very
6 dense foliage there. Only the birds can find you there.
7 Q. Thank you. Knowing the culture and way of life of
8 Kosovar Albanians, I would like to ask you this: Around the houses of
9 Azem, Sadik, and Deme Gashi, were there any brick walls or not?
10 A. No, no. In Kosova there are no walls. After Communism was
11 collapsed, we did away with all walls.
12 Q. When did that take place in your village that you tore down the
14 A. On the day that we handed over the membership cards, the party
15 cards, we did away with that.
16 Q. When was that?
17 A. You know that better than I.
18 Q. I don't. That's why I'm asking you. When did Communism cease in
19 Kosovo and Metohija? What year was that? I really don't know.
20 A. I don't know the year. I don't know which year.
21 Q. Are you quite certain that even today there are no brick walls
22 around any of Albanian houses?
23 A. It is a fact that there are no brick walls. If you don't believe
24 me, come with me. I have my Besa being an Albanian. You can come with
25 me and see yourself.
1 Q. I'm merely posing questions here, and I have some information
2 that points otherwise. The next question I have has to do with the
3 photograph that was shown to you first by the Prosecutor. On that
4 photograph you recognised one person by the name of Salipur, aka Munja.
5 You also used some other adjectives concerning that person. My question
6 regarding the photograph, I think it is Exhibit P00772 if I'm not
7 mistaken, it is the group photograph use by my learned friend.
8 MR. DJORDJEVIC: [Interpretation] Could we please have that
9 brought back to the screen.
10 A. Yes, yes. This is the man.
11 Q. [In English] Okay. [Interpretation] I will have a few questions
12 for you regarding this photograph. This photograph that you're now
13 looking at, is this the first time that you see it?
14 A. No, sir. This is the last time I'm seeing this gentleman,
15 because I have seen him alive. He has done everything possible short of
16 eating people alive.
17 Q. Am I right when I say that this is not the first time that you
18 see this photograph? You have seen this photograph before, the one that
19 you're looking at now?
20 A. I saw him live in civilian clothes, in uniform, this person.
21 Before -- even before the war.
22 Q. You didn't understand my question. I'm asking you about the
23 photograph, not the person nicknamed Munja whose last name was Salipur.
24 I'm asking you about this photograph. Is this the first time that you
25 see this photograph? That's what I'm asking you.
1 A. No. I have seen that many times.
2 Q. When did you see this photograph for the for the first time,
3 Mr. Kelmendi?
4 A. It's absurd to ask me such a question. This was a very bad
6 Q. When was the first time that you saw this photograph,
7 Mr. Kelmendi?
8 A. I said earlier when.
9 Q. Can you tell me how much earlier than the events of the
10 14th of May, 1999? Approximately. Did you see it for the first time in
11 recent times or immediately after KFOR was deployed in
12 Kosovo and Metohija?
13 A. I saw him for thousands of times. I told you. Do you understand
14 me or no?
15 Q. No, I don't, because I'm asking you about the photograph, not
16 about Salipur. I'm asking you about the photograph.
17 Let's imagine that Salipur is not there, although you do
18 recognise the photograph. I'm asking you about the photograph.
19 When did you see the photograph for the first time in relation to
20 1999? Was it immediately after the war stopped and after KFOR was
21 deployed in Kosovo and Metohija or was it recently?
22 A. Yes, when the KFOR came, when they showed us the photos of the
23 criminals, it was then that they I saw this photo for the first time.
24 Q. When you were shown photographs of criminals, did they tell you
25 these are criminals, or did they ask you, "Are these criminals?" And
1 please tell me right away who showed you the photographs.
2 A. No. They asked me whether I knew the persons in the photo.
3 Q. I believe that was the case. And can you tell me who asked you
4 that and who showed you the photographs?
5 A. The people who were authorised to inquire about the crimes
6 committed in Kosova. Of course I can't remember their names. I can't
7 tell you who they were, because I didn't have any power to ask them who
8 they were, what they were doing. In our tradition, we don't ask too many
10 Q. Could you tell me if they were Albanians or foreigners?
11 A. They were foreigners.
12 Q. Thank you. My next question: Have you ever from any NGO or any
13 other person received a book with this photograph and other photographs,
14 including the one of your neighbour who survived the massacre,
15 Hazir Berisha, as a gift?
16 A. I don't have any -- know anything about a book. I haven't seen
17 any book. I don't know anything about a book.
18 Q. Thank you. Immediately after the events of the 14th of May --
19 or, rather, 1999, you say that together with some of your neighbours you
20 moved the bodies away so that the Serbian police or the military or
21 whatever couldn't come and remove the bodies.
22 My question to you is this: After the 14th of May, did anyone
23 from the Serbian forces come back to the village regardless of who it
24 was, to look for the bodies of those who were killed in the houses of
25 Azem, Sadik, and Deme Gashi? Did anyone come back after the 14th to look
1 for the bodies and, if so, did anyone question the villagers about the
2 circumstances and the whereabouts of the bodies?
3 A. Yes. They came on the 16th. They came at Ymer Kadrija's house
4 and asked about the men of the village. He said, I know nothing. They
5 came again on the 17th to know who was killed, who had remained alive.
6 When they found out that I was alive, they came three or four days
7 afterwards at my door and fired a Kalashnikov, but I was lucky to escape.
8 And after that, I tried to keep a very, very low profile to hide, because
9 I no longer trusted anyone.
10 Q. Please tell me, do you know who came on the 16th and the
11 17th of May and on that occasion when you were fired at? And when I say
12 that, I'm not asking whether you knew the person, but I'm asking you also
13 how many of them came. Can you tell us that?
14 A. Four people came the first day. They usually came by car. On
15 the 16th and 17th, they came in uniforms, police uniforms. One time they
16 came in civilian clothes.
17 Q. Can you tell me what kind of a car they had, what kind of a
19 A. It was a private car. They played two roles. When NATO had its
20 strikes, they used private cars. When -- otherwise they used official
22 Q. Were those ordinary cars or jeeps, or something else, the
23 official cars?
24 A. The ones that came to the village you mean? Can you repeat the
25 question, please?
1 Q. You said that during the NATO air-strikes they used -- they would
2 come in ordinary private cars, and when there were no NATO air-strikes,
3 they came in official cars. The official cars were those again just
4 passenger cars with the army or military or whatever insignia, or were
5 there -- were they some kind of special cars on the 16th, the 17th, and I
6 don't know what May -- when you were fired and you -- at and you escaped.
7 A. You are mixing up a question. When there were NATO air-strikes
8 they used civilian cars. Otherwise, they used official ones. They came
9 to the village after the massacre in civilian cars, black Mercedes cars
10 they were.
11 Q. Thank you. And did you after the 14th of May see Ranko Vlahovic,
12 Obrnovic, or Brajovic, any of the three? You yourself.
13 A. After the war, I no longer saw them. It was impossible to see
15 Q. Not after the war. Before the war ended but immediately after
16 the 14th of May, let's say until the 11th of June. Did you see any of
17 the three?
18 A. After that day, I no longer saw anyone, because as I said, I kept
19 away from the asphalt road because I was very much afraid. I wanted to
20 remain alive, to be able to come here and to testify to what occurred
21 that day in my village.
22 Q. Mr. Kelmendi, let us go back to the photograph that is on our
23 screens. I would like to ask you how did you immediate Salipur aka Munja
24 who is depicted on this photograph? What were the circumstances, and
25 could you tell me which person is he on this photograph out of all those
2 A. This one near the flag in the middle.
3 Q. Thank you. So under what circumstances and when did you first
4 see him?
5 A. Before the war I saw him beating someone in front of my eyes in
7 Q. Can you tell me what were the circumstances? Was there a war or
8 was there no war? Did you know him personally?
9 A. No, there was not a war. It was before the war, but he -- he
10 hated Albanians.
11 Q. And this person that he was beating, did you know that person?
12 A. He beat him for nothing, for no reason at all, simply because he
13 was Albanian. That person was reduced to such a state that we had to
14 give him first aid.
15 Q. Well, what was the name of the person? You must have memorised
16 that person's name since you went through this traumatic event. It's a
17 major incident, and it was in peacetime. Was he in civilian clothes when
18 he was beating that person or in a uniform?
19 A. This is really ridiculous what you are putting to me.
20 Q. What I'm asking you is actually quite sad, and I wouldn't agree
21 with you that it's really ridiculous. If somebody is beating another
22 person purely because the other person is Albanian, that's really sad.
23 Well, if you want to answer my question, please do so, and then we'll
24 continue tomorrow.
25 This man Salipur Munja was he in a uniform or in civilian clothes
1 when he was beating that person, and could you tell me what was the name
2 of this person that he was beating for no reason, because as soon as you
3 say that he was beating this person for no reason at all, it must mean
4 that you are aware of all the circumstances surrounding this incident.
5 That's why I'm asking you this.
6 A. I didn't know the person. This occurred 15 years ago, but the
7 later massacre in Qyshk belittled the first incident that I mentioned.
8 I apologise for using the word "ridiculous."
9 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Djordjevic --
10 MR. DJORDJEVIC: [Interpretation] I agree with you, Your Honour.
11 It is time for us to take our break, and I will -- I would like to
12 continue my cross-examination tomorrow.
13 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Kelmendi, we must stop now because another
14 trial will be conducted in this courtroom, so we must adjourn, and we'll
15 ask you to come back tomorrow morning at 9.00 to continue. A court
16 officer will give you further assistance when we adjourn. So we will see
17 you again tomorrow morning, and we now adjourn.
18 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 1.48 p.m.
19 to be reconvened on Wednesday, the 20th day of
20 May, 2009, at 9.00 a.m.