CEOL - Bodies of Kosovo Serbs found in Pristina apartment

PRISTINA, Dec 8, 1999 -- (Reuters) Kosovo's international police force said on Tuesday an elderly Serb woman and her son had been found shot dead in a Pristina apartment after apparently lying undiscovered for around a week.

Coming the day after the publication of a major human rights study which documented the wave of revenge attacks by ethnic Albanians which has swept Kosovo, news of the discovery once again highlighted the plight of Kosovo's Serb minority.

A member of the public had found the bodies of the woman, aged around 63, and her son, about 33 years old, after a seven-year old child noticed their apartment door was open and detected a strong stench from inside, a police spokesman said.

The victims, found in the central Dardania district of the Kosovo capital, appeared to have been dead between seven and 10 days, spokesman Gilles Moreau told Reuters.

"It's a new case but an old murder," he said.

More than 220,000 Serbs and members of other minority groups have fled Kosovo, according to Yugoslav local authorities, during and after NATO's 11-week bombing campaign to end Serb repression of the territory's ethnic Albanian majority.

The Serbs' postwar fate is one of the central themes of a report by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe released on Monday. It says Albanians have adopted a view of collective guilt with regard to Serb atrocities against them.

"The entire remaining Kosovo Serb population was seen as a target for Kosovo Albanians," said the second part of the report, dealing with the period from June to October this year.

It also calls for a a probe into frequent accounts that the Kosovo Liberation Army former guerrilla group has been involved in the continuing violence in the province. KLA leaders deny thay have been behind any attacks.

The first part of the OSCE report gathers witness testimony of the campaign of terror in Kosovo by Serb forces in Kosovo which ended with their withdrawal in June and the arrival of the NATO-led KFOR peacekeeping force.

Trying to prevent attacks on Serbs and other minorities has been one of KFOR's toughest tasks.

KFOR said on Tuesday that U.S. forces had arrested four people, all believed to be ethnic Albanians, suspected of involvement in a bomb attack on a Serb home in eastern Kosovo in which one woman died and two men were injured.

Moreau confirmed the dead man and woman in Pristina had been on a KFOR list of vulnerable people and a patrol had visited their home recently.

The soldiers had received no reply when they knocked on the door but noticed nothing amiss and, as the apartment was still secure, assumed they had been visiting relatives in the area.

In another sign of what investigators describe as a "culture of silence" among the local population when they try to track down criminals, Moreau said none of the neighbors had been able to shed any light on the killings so far.

"We can't help this population if they don't want to help themselves," he said.

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