Macedonia To Probe Mass Graves Allegations
Skopje | 17 June 2010 | Sinisa Jakov Marusic
Macedonia will probe allegations of possible mass graves on its territory containing civilian victims from the 1998-1999 conflict in Kosovo, Macedonia’s Foreign Ministry told Balkan Insight on Thursday. The Ministry yesterday revealed in a press release that Kosovo authorities on May 22 handed them information on the possible existence of several sites where bodies of Kosovo civilians may have been buried.
“We will act upon this information with utmost care. We have already conveyed this information to the Ministry of Justice and they will handle the case from now on,” the spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Petar Culev, said.
Culev explained that if necessary “Macedonia will form special teams of experts and invite experts from Kosovo to join in”.
Local media have speculated that one of the possible places where there might be graves of Kosovo civilians is along the banks of the river Lepenec, which enters Macedonian territory from Kosovo. They say that bodies of people killed in Kosovo might have floated along the river and ended up on Macedonian soil.
Another possible location mentioned in media reports is the area around the Blace border crossing.
“This is very serious issue and we are already examining the information that we received. At the moment it is too early to give any more specific details about the future moves of the ministry,” the spokesperson of the Justice Ministry, Mirjana Ilijeva, told Balkan Insight.
In 1998 and 1999 Serb forces cracked down on the ethnic Albanian insurgency fighting in Kosovo, which was a province of Serbia. Soon after, in March 1999 NATO launched its bombing campaign against Serbia and drove away Serbian forces from Kosovo, which was then proclaimed an international protectorate.