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The Hague Tribunal’s
Final Body Count In Kosovo Was Embarrassingly Low
The Guardian covers up for NATO, and yet revealingly neglects one argument.
Historical and Investigative Research - 4
The above two quotes (with my emphasis) are taken from an article that appeared in The Guardian in August 2000 and which you will find below this short piece. The Guardian is reporting on the Hague Tribunal’s final body count in Kosovo, after forensic investigators concluded their work, following the NATO bombing of Serbia.
NATO had defended the bombing of Serbia as a humanitarian measure to stop a genocide. The Guardian argues that Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic's forces massacred far fewer Albanian civilians in Kosovo than NATO had claimed. It appears to be a criticism of NATO, but it isn't, because what is true is that no evidence was produced that Slobodan Milosevic's forces massacred even one lonely Albanian civilian, and the demonstration is in The Guardian article itself.
In this piece I will establish two things:
Together, as I will show, these two points establish that the accusations against the Serbs that they massacred thousands of Albanian civilians and then whisked the bodies away in a massive freezer truck cover-up were NATO and media lies.
Inconsistent with NATO's self-justifying accusations, very few corpses were found in Kosovo. While conceding that much, The Guardian article in question nevertheless tries hard to misinform. The headline reads:
Since the headline is scaling down an earlier NATO claim, and since NATO was accusing the Milosevic government, the headline implies that, though much lower than NATO's first accusations, the “Under 3,000” are nevertheless all “Ethnic Albanians Massacred” by Milosevic's forces.
This is a complete fabrication.
Any reader who plows to the end of the The Guardian's piece will find that “[Hague] officials will not say how many of the 2,788 bodies exhumed show clear signs of being victims of summary execution such as being shot in the head from close range.” What follows? If Hague officials won't tell us this, then we don't know how many of these bodies belong to people who were massacred. Therefore, the “Under 3,000” figure (2,788 bodies) cannot be given as the number of “ethnic Albanians massacred.” And yet this is precisely how The Guardian serves that number up in its headline: “Claims Of Up To 100,000 Ethnic Albanians Massacred In Kosovo Revised To Under 3,000.”
It is of course suspicious that The Guardian included the crucial datum about nobody saying how many of the 2788 were massacred, or by whom, at the very end of the article. This way, only the few diehards who read newspaper articles to the end, rather than skim over the headlines, will have any chance of noticing that the above headline is a fraud.
Turning for a moment from The Guardian's motives to those of the Hague Tribunal officials, ask yourself this: Why should Hague officials act shy when it comes to saying how many of the bodies appear to have been executed? After all, this is precisely what Hague Tribunal forensics were supposed to be determining: whether war crimes were committed. Could it be that the Hague Tribunal will not give this number because it is much, much lower than 2,788?
Could this number be zero?Or let me put it this way: Can there be any doubt that the Hague Tribunal would have rushed to scream “All massacred!” if the international forensic teams had indeed found evidence consistent with that? I don't think this can be doubted, because the Hague Tribunal is wholly owned by NATO.[1a] If any evidence of massacre had been turned up, The Hague would have loudly shared it with the public.
But let's come back to The Guardian. We have seen that, contrary to what their headline implies, the “Under 3,000” figure is not the number of massacred Albanian civilians. Amazingly, however, neither is it the number of dead Albanian civilians. Nor is it, believe it or not, even the number of dead Albanians. As explained in the same article:
The number 2,108, as you can see above, was the number of “bodies found.” This means it includes KLA combat deaths, Yugoslav army combat deaths, Serbian and Albanian NATO bomb victims (because NATO dropped them on both), Serbian and Albanian civilian victims of KLA terrorism (because the KLA targeted both) -- everything. In 1999, most papers reported the 2,108 figure accurately as one of “bodies found.” The following headlines, for example, are all from November 11, 1999:
If The Hague had really given the number 2,108 as that of massacred Albanian civilians, every headline in the world would have said this. A few did, but not because they were repeating what Hague Tribunal Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte had said in her November 11, 1999 press briefing. What Del Ponte said at that briefing was that “There had been a lot of speculation about the number of people killed in Kosovo… To date 2,108 bodies had been exhumed.” Notice that she said “people” -- not “ethnic Albanians,” or “massacred ethnic Albanians.” The tally to date was given as “2,108 bodies…exhumed.”
At the same press briefing, Del Ponte stated that “confirming identification was not the primary objective of her office.” Remarkable. Del Ponte was the Hague Tribunal's Chief Prosecutor, so she was supposed to be investigating accusations that Milosevic’s government had supposedly massacred Albanian civilians in Kosovo. How should she go about it? Well, step one would be to find out how many among the 2,108 dead bodies were even Albanian. And yet, as you see above, Del Ponte stated that “confirming identification” was not her primary objective. Absurdity. But what survives the absurdity is that 2,108 was the total number of found bodies, period, not the number of massacred Albanian civilians, since the Hague didn't even want to know how many of the found bodies were Albanian.
But confident now that she could say anything at all, Del Ponte went further.
Are we to believe that Del Ponte knew this without “confirming identification,” a task she did not even consider her primary objective? She must be clairvoyant. But even this ridiculous answer by Del Ponte once again confirms the main point: she was not giving the figure 2,108 as one of “ethnic Albanians massacred.” She merely alleged -- though incoherently -- that most of these (but not all) were Albanians. She said nothing about numbers of civilians or about massacres, and she did not assign responsibility for the deaths.
All the same,Del Ponte did prevaricate incoherently. Why? Well, since the Hague Tribunal belongs to NATO, it matters that Del Ponte's incoherence is convenient for NATO: she didn't want anybody asking her to identify the bodies, but so long as nobody did, she was going to take the liberty of implying as many dead Albanians as she wanted to. Perfect for NATO, since NATO's earlier accusations -- plus headlines such as the one in The Guardian -- would lead everybody to think that she had said the 2,788 were the bodies of Albanian civilians massacred by Milosevic's forces.
That was November of 1999, but propaganda evolves fast, and so by August 2000, when The Guardian reported on The Hague’s claimed final body count of just 2,788 bodies, which added a mere 680 bodies to the earlier 2,108, the paper's misrepresentation of the facts became more extreme even than Del Ponte's.
Consider.Saying that you found 2,788 dead bodies in Kosovo is not synonymous with saying that you found 2,788 dead Albanians, much less 2788 dead Albanian civilians. So one can hardly say that these are 2788 massacred Albanian civilians, much less that they are 2788 Albanian civilians massacred by Milosevic. This applies especially
Therefore, The Guardian's headline, “Claims Of Up To 100,000 Ethnic Albanians Massacred In Kosovo Revised To Under 3,000,” which telegraphs a supposed identity between the total number of corpses reportedly found, and the number of Albanian civilians supposedly massacred by Milosevic is, quite simply, a lie.
It is not a small lie. Outdoing Del Ponte, The Guardian is counting all dead Serbs as “ethnic Albanians massacred” (by Milosevic). Take a second to digest that.
More than one sentence in the text works hard to re-assert the interpretation of 2,788 as the number of Albanian civilians massacred by Milosevic. For example, “The final toll of civilians confirmed massacred by Yugoslav forces in Kosovo is likely to be less than 3,000.” Here is another: “The fact that far fewer Kosovo Albanians were massacred than suggested by Nato will raise sharp questions...” Or consider this one: “…less than 3,000 Kosovo Albanian murder victims have been discovered in the whole of Kosovo.”
This is scandalous. In fact, not a single Albanian civilian murdered by Milosevic's forces has been demonstrated. But once it sinks in that The Guardian is deliberately trying to cover for NATO, the most surprising thing about this article becomes what The Guardian didn’t say. I turn to this next.
Let us fast forward into the future to a date seven months after The Guardian wrote the article we are here considering, to April 2001, because this will help you see how surprising what The Guardian didn't say in August 2000.
As I explain in Part 1 of The Freezer Truck Hoax, in April 2001 a story emerged that tried to deal with a discrepancy: despite the fact that NATO, the terrorist KLA, and the Hague Tribunal had ended up scaling down their claim of massacred Albanian civilians from 100,000 (or 500,000) to just 10,000, the international forensics hadn't even managed to find that many total bodies. How to render this state of affairs in a manner favorable to NATO? The new story of April 2001 presented a remarkable hypothesis. While NATO bombs rained on Yugoslavia, went the claim, Milosevic’s forces had gone around unearthing the alleged victims of the supposed massacres from their graves, then hauling them away in freezer trucks to prevent discovery of the evidence. And that, supposedly, is why the Hague investigators had found no massacred Albanians.
And with these allegations, which turned the embarrassment of no evidence of a crime into evidence of a cover-up (for which, by the way, not one shred of evidence was ever presented), Milosevic was illegally abducted and sent to the Hague Tribunal.
Now, the freezer truck allegations, to the extent they were believed (a large extent indeed), had the effect of sparing NATO a tremendous embarrassment, for NATO had failed to produce any evidence that Albanian civilians were being massacred by Milosevic's government, and therefore had failed to show that its stated reasons for bombing Serbia had any basis in fact. Since I have shown above that The Guardian in August 2000 was trying hard to minimize NATO's embarrassment, isn't it striking that The Guardian forgot to mention the freezer truck cover-up?
Consider the last paragraph in The Guardian's piece:
It is obvious from the above that both NATO and the Albanian politicians in Kosovo were embarrassed that very few bodies were found. If they didn’t want to state the definitive number of Albanian civilians murdered by Milosevic, one is entitled to wonder if they had in fact found any. By avoiding an official statement on the supposed number of murdered Albanian civilians, they allowed papers like The Guardian to state the literal truth -- that fewer than 3000 Albanian civilians had been murdered -- in a way that implied something perfectly false: that about 3000 murdered Albanian civilians had been found. As the quoted official states, NATO and local Albanian politicians could “exploit the issue” but only “if you don’t have the true figure.”
And yet the very best way to “exploit the issue” was to quote the Albanian ‘witnesses’ who had supposedly seen thousands of bodies of their murdered relatives whisked away in freezer trucks during the NATO bombing. What a public relations coup this would have been for NATO, as indeed it was later on, after April 2001, when this claim was made by the entire Western mass media (with zero evidence). But The Guardian didn't mention anything about freezer truck cover-ups in August 2000. In fact, it made zero allegations of cover-up. The 2,788 bodies, it reported, was the final count.
How to explain this?
Simple: At the time, nobody had yet thought to invent the preposterous story of the freezer-truck cover-up. It was invented for the first time later, in April 2001, when it was first mentioned, just as the needed ‘witnesses’ for this story were also invented later, out of thin air, when NATO decided that it needed somehow to get Milosevic to The Hague.
CLAIMS OF UP TO 100,000 ETHNIC ALBANIANS MASSACRED IN KOSOVO REVISED TO UNDER 3,000 AS EXHUMATIONS NEAR ENDThe Guardian (London), August 18, 2000, Guardian Home Pages, Pg. 3, 1001 words, Serb killings exaggerated by west: Claims of up to 100,000 ethnic Albanians massacred in Kosovo revised to under 3,000 as exhumations near end, Jonathan Steele.
The final toll of civilians confirmed massacred by Yugoslav forces in Kosovo is likely to be less than 3,000, far short of the numbers claimed by Nato governments during last year’s controversial air strikes on Yugoslavia.
As war crimes experts from Britain and other countries prepare to wind down the exhumation of hundreds of graves in Kosovo on behalf of the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in the Hague, officials concede they have not borne out the worst wartime reports. These were given by refugees and repeated by western government spokesmen during the campaign. They talked of indiscriminate killings and as many as 100,000 civilians missing or taken out of refugee columns by the Serbs. The fact that far fewer Kosovo Albanians were massacred than suggested by Nato will raise sharp questions about the organisation’s handling of the media.
However, commentators yesterday stressed that the new details should not obscure the fact that the major war crime in the tribunal’s indictment of the Yugoslav president, Slobodan Milosevic, and four other Serb officials is the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo and forced deportation of hundreds of thousands of people.
Mark Laity, the acting Nato spokesman, said last night: “Nato never said the missing were all dead. The figure we stood by was 10,000. If it’s wrong, I’m prepared to put up with a little bit of egg on our face if thousands are alive who were thought to be killed.”
He added: “Nato is always going to lose. If there were 10,000 dead we would be criticised for entering Kosovo late. If it’s a few thousand, we’re criticised because people say there wasn’t a crisis.
“The point is, did we successfully pre-empt or not,” Mr Laity added. “I think the evidence shows we did. We would rather be criticised for overestimating the numbers who died than for failing to pre-empt. Any objective analysis would say there was a clear crisis. There was indiscriminate killing. There were attempts to clear hundreds of thousands of people out of their homes.”
When Yugoslav forces withdrew from Kosovo in June last year, Nato spokesmen estimated that the Serbs had killed at least 10,000 civilians. While the bombing was under way William Cohen, the US defence secretary, announced that 100,000 Kosovo Albanian men of military age were missing after being taken from columns of families being deported to Albania and Macedonia. “They may have been murdered,” he said. The fear was they might share the fate of the men who were separated from their wives and children and executed when Serb forces overran the town of Srebrenica in Bosnia.
But while some 7,000 Bosnian Muslims died in the week-long Srebrenica massacre in 1995, less than 3,000 Kosovo Albanian murder victims have been discovered in the whole of Kosovo.
“The final number of bodies uncovered will be less than 10,000 and probably more accurately determined as between two and three thousand,” Paul Risley, the Hague tribunal’s press spokesman, said yesterday.
In three months of digging this summer, the tribunal’s international forensic experts found 680 bodies at 150 sites. This was in addition to the 2,108 bodies found at 195 sites last year before exhumations were called off because of winter frosts. “By October we expect to have enough evidence to end the exhumations by foreign teams, and they will not be necessary next year,” Mr Risley added.
Although the tribunal has received reports of another 350 suspected grave sites, it believes the cost and effort of un covering them would not be justified. Some suspicious mounds turned out to contain dead animals or to be empty.
When the tribunal’s teams reached Kosovo last summer, shortly after the international peacekeepers, they were given reports of 11,334 people in mass graves, but the results of its exhumations fall well short of that number.
The tribunal’s indictment of President Milosevic includes the charge that during the Nato bombing Serb police shot 105 ethnic Albanian men and boys near the village of Mala Krusa in western Kosovo. Witnesses claimed hay was piled on the bodies and set alight. Tribunal experts believe the remains may have been tampered with later, since the bones of only a few people were found.
The exhumation of less than 3,000 bodies is sure to add fuel to those who say Nato’s intervention against Yugoslavia was not “humanitarian” and that it had other motives such as maintaining its credibility in a post-cold war world. Others say Nato’s air strikes revealed a grotesque double standard since western governments did nothing to prevent massacres in Rwanda.
Carla del Ponte, the tribunal’s chief prosecutor, told the UN security council: “Our task is not to prepare a complete list of war casualties. Our primary task is to gather evidence relevant to criminal charges.”
Evidence of the forced deportation of hundreds of thousands of people was overwhelming before the tribunal gained access to Kosovo. “Their (the exhumations) benefit is to link forensic evidence to particular units of the police and army operating in particular parts of Kosovo. It wasn’t a case of rogue units. The Serbian police state was fully involved,” Mr Risley said. But officials will not say how many of the 2,788 bodies exhumed show clear signs of being victims of summary execution such as being shot in the head from close range.
No Nato government has sought to produce a definitive total of murdered ethnic Albanian civilians since the Serb offensives began in March 1998. “No one is interested,” complained a senior international official in Kosovo involved in helping victims’ families. “Nato doesn’t want to admit the damage wasn’t as extensive as it said. Local Albanian politicians have the same motive. If you don’t have the true figure, you can exploit the issue.
 The Scotsman, November 19, 1999, Friday, Pg. 12, 635 words, KOSOVO WAR CRIMES TEAM STICKS BY ITS DEATH TOTAL, Severin Carrell
On the issue of NATO's
control and funding of the Hague Tribunal, one can hardly do
better than show NATO admitting it all: "Official
Statements Prove Hague 'Tribunal' Belongs To NATO"
Statements Prove Hague 'Tribunal' Belongs To NATO"
And consider also this:
 “THE HAGUE
TRIBUNAL FOUND ALMOST NO BODIES IN KOSOVO: So they said the
numbers were. . .beside the point!”; Historical and
Investigative Research; 4 December 2005; by Francisco Gil-White.
NOTE TO THE READER:
If you arrived here directly (e.g. through a search engine) be advised that this piece is supporting documentation for the following main article, which you are welcome to consult:The Freezer Truck Hoax: How NATO framed the Serbs