The Victims Speak

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Milosevic appears before the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague

There have been three of them now: all men, all farmers, all Kosovo Albanian Muslims from small villages testifying against the former leader whom they hold responsible for the burnings, lootings, murders and deportations that defined Kosovo in 1999 — and still define their lives. They refuse to look at the once omnipotent Milosevic; in a show of disrespect, they turn their backs on the man they never considered their leader.

The first victim to testify was 49- year-old Agim Zeqiri. He described how Serb forces attacked his village on March 25, 1999, the day after NATO began bombing Yugoslavia. After Serb forces started torching neighborhoods, Zeqiri says he fled with his family and some neighbors to a nearby stream. He and another man left the women and children hiding in a ravine. That, he says, was the last time he saw them. After being severely beaten in the head and kidneys by men with painted black faces, Zeqiri says he was forced to flee to Albania. It was there, he said, that he heard the news. "My cousin in Germany called and told me to be brave because your family and my family have all been killed," he testified. Zeqiri lost his entire family — four daughters, a son, his wife and 10 other relatives. The youngest, he said, was just a year-and-a-half old.

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