A Swiss forensic team working in conjunction with international war crimes investigators on Wednesday spoke of gruesome findings in Kosovo, saying they had found evidence of widespread massacres of the civilian population.This content was published on July 14, 1999 - 17:57
A Swiss forensic team working in conjunction with international war crimes investigators on Wednesday spoke of gruesome findings in Kosovo, saying they had found evidence of widespread massacres of the civilian population.
Summing up their work at a news conference in Berne, the four Swiss policemen said they had taken 3,500 pictures and five hours of video tape. The footage would now be sorted and matched with witness and survivor accounts and the final report would then be passed on to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the forensic experts said.
The Swiss team, which was among the first in Kosovo to take up the investigation, described the areas where they worked as veritable killing fields.
“We entered an area where mass murder had taken place. Only three months had passed since the killings occurred. Many mass graves were empty,” said one member of the team, adding that death and destruction appeared to have significantly increased when NATO began bombing Serbian military targets in Kosovo.
“After NATO began its air attacks, the perpetrators began to murder women, children and the elderly indiscriminately,” one team member said. “The main victim of the mass murder was the unarmed civilian population.”
The team described in greater detail one war crimes incident they investigated for two days.
Fifty people, including 24 children, were herded into a barn. The perpetrators then killed their victims with automatic gun fire and also threw grenades into a house.
The day after the horrific killings, the murderers came back to remove the bodies. The murderers then returned to the scene for a third time and set the building on fire in an apparent effort to destroy any evidence.
Four body bags were enough to hold the remains of all the victims of the war crime, the team concluded its account.
A second team of Swiss investigators was expected to continue forensic investigations in Kosovo in mid-August, the Swiss authorities said Wednesday.
The war crimes tribunal, which is a U.N. body, will use the evidence in the prosecution of several leading Yugoslav politicians – including President Slobodan Milosevic – on war crimes charges.
From staff with wire reports.