The Guardian - Serbs 'hid war crime evidence'

Richard Norton-Taylor
Friday November 19, 1999

Victims of atrocities in Kosovo were dumped in rivers, burned in buildings and buried in cemeteries by Serbs trying to hide evidence of the massacres, Britain's war crimes coordinator said yesterday.

Catherine Nettleton said that British forensic teams had exhumed 508 victims - but admitted that many more will never be recovered.

The chief prosecutor at the war crimes tribunal in the Hague, Carla del Ponte, said last week that investigators had dug up 2,108 bodies. She said a full "census of the dead" might never be established.

British experts are sticking to their original estimate that at least 10,000 Kosovan Albanian civilians were killed, despite suggestions that the figure could be much lower.

Their estimate was based on a range of sources including witnesses, intelligence, soldiers, press reports, and non-governmental organisations.

The 508 bodies were recovered by a team led by detective chief superintendent John Bunn, of the Metropolitan police, in an area north of Pristren and south-west of Pristina. They include 20 young children. Many of the victims had been shot in the head, according to detailed figures released yesterday. The team, which will present its evidence to the tribunal, investigated more than 50 sites.

These figures were conservative estimates, Mr Bunn said. "It is pretty clear these were atrocities committed against the civilian population."

Forensic teams have stopped their investigations for the winter because the ground was too hard to continue. They expect to resume their work in April next year.,3604,105307,00.html

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