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The Freezer Truck Hoax
How NATO framed the Serbs

Historical and Investigative Research - 2 Dec 2005
by Francisco Gil-White


First published in Emperor's Clothes (19 Sep 2002)

1  |  2  |  3  |  4  5  |  6  |  7  |  8  9



On April 30th 2001, an accusation began that the Serbs under Slobodan Milosevic had supposedly shipped thousands of dead bodies in freezer trucks from Kosovo into other areas of Serbia to hide them from the forensics hired by the Hague Tribunal (ICTY - International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia).

It was an extraordinary claim for NATO, but so was NATO's embarrassment: the Hague Tribunal forensics had found exactly zero bodies of Albanian civilians murdered by Milosevic's forces (as opposed to, say, 100,000, or 500,000, which had been the earlier NATO claims).  So which is it? Did the Serbs carry out a spectacular cover up? Or did NATO simply lie?

Well, NATO clearly had a motive to lie, because it needed to get President Slobodan Milosevic tried at The Hague for war crimes, and an absence of evidence of war crimes is a bit awkward under these circumstances. NATO also needed to justify the bombing of Serbia as a humanitarian expedition to save all those Albanians whom the Serbs had supposedly been murdering. So a double motive. And there is no question that NATO had opportunity, because its disproportionate amount of power makes it likely that NATO can get away with a lie. So the only question is whether we have a smoking gun that NATO lied.

We do. This series will lay out the evidence that convicts NATO of creating a hoax of a genocide, followed by a hoax of a cover up, all of it blamed on the Serbs, with the help of the terrorist KLA, and with the help of the Western mainstream media.

The Serbs are innocent.

The facts don't match the accusations

On March 24th 1999, NATO began bombing Serbia. Why? NATO said: "for humanitarian reasons": to stop a genocide.

Even as it dropped its bombs, in order to justify dropping more, NATO alleged that Slobodan Milosevic's forces were dodging enough NATO explosions to kill as many as 100,000 Albanian civilians.[1] In fact, sometimes they said 500,000.[1a] Consistent with this, during the bombing, NATO had its own Hague Tribunal issue an indictment against Slobodan Milosevic for “war crimes.”[2] And yet, uncomfortably, after the bombing, investigators hired by NATO and the UN scoured Kosovo for months and then. . .and then. . . .nothing: they produced zero evidence of 'ethnic cleansing' by Milosevic's forces.

Surprised? I will explain and document everything in detail. But first, a parable.

One man shoots another, and the killer explains that he did it for "humanitarian reasons" because the victim was about to shoot somebody else. Of course, there is an investigation. Imagine that you are the detective and that you fail to find a gun on the victim's body or anywhere in the vicinity. This appears to contradict the killer's story. So you interrogate the killer again and he mumbles that maybe the victim threw the gun away. "After he died?" you suggest, with irony. The killer replies sullenly that he doesn't know where the man's gun is. "Perhaps somebody took it," he adds. Some people corroborate the killer's story but they all turn out to have hated the dead victim and had many reasons to want him dead.

If you are a normal person, then, since you are the detective, and this is your job, you grow suspicious.

Lab tests later reveal no traces of paraffin on the victim's hands or anywhere on his clothing. So you question the shooter again about the victim's supposed gun, and he then confesses that the victim did not really have a gun. "But he did have a knife, and he threw it at me," the suspect retorts, adding, "I don't know where the knife ended up."

Do you become more suspicious? Of course you do. The shooter has completely changed his story when investigations turned up no evidence for his first excuse. Any detective who did not, at this point, choose premeditated murder as the running hypothesis for this event should turn in his badge, for he cannot reason from the obvious.

Okay, keep your detective hat on.

NATO first said it was bombing the Serbs on account of 100,000 murdered Albanians. And yet, after NATO dropped its bombs, this is all that seven months of looking for bodies (from June until November 1999) could turn up, according to Reuters:

"UN investigators have exhumed 2,108 corpses in Kosovo so far, but the true number of ethnic Albanian victims may be much higher, the chief UN [War Crimes Tribunal] prosecutor Carla del Ponte said on Wednesday."[3]

Some people may be tempted to say, "Okay, so they didn't find 100,000 bodies, but they did find 2,108."

But did they?

Why should we believe the new figure given that the first figure -- 100,000 -- was nonsense? Our suspicion is rewarded. Notice what The Wall Street Journal said about this (my emphasis):

"the number of bodies...is...2,108 as of November, and not all of them necessarily war-crimes victims."[4a]

Actually, one has to make the point more strongly: Del Ponte’s 2108 figure was simply the number of “exhumed corpses” (see above). It therefore included not only Albanian civilians, but also Serbian civilians, KLA combat deaths, Yugoslav army combat deaths, Serbian and Albanian NATO-bomb victims, Serbian and Albanian KLA victims. . . - everyone.

This means that only a fraction of the 2108 can be Albanian civilians. So del Ponte was misinforming when she said that "the true number of ethnic Albanian victims may be much higher," as if the 2108 were even all Albanians.

Remember, the original claim was 100,000 massacred Albanian civilians. But we are now down to a mere fraction of 2108. Not much is left at all of NATO's original allegation.

But have we touched bottom? Why should we assume that? Our suspicion is rewarded again. Sure enough, it turns out that the 2108 bodies are not even casualties that took place during the bombing, as NATO and the media were trying to suggest.

Let's see. The NATO bombing began on March 24th, 1999. Before that date, NATO officially estimated that fighting between the Yugoslav Army and the KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army) terrorists, had resulted in 2000 deaths on all sides.[4]

I emphasize that this is NATO's estimate before it began dropping bombs. Thus, if after the bombing the investigators could find only 2108 corpses, it follows that no more than about 108 people died during NATO's attack. And this -- again, please take good note -- is all according to NATO's and the ICTY's own official numbers. In other words, these are the official numbers of those trying Milosevic for supposed 'war crimes' at The Hague (so, if anything, the numbers are inflated.)

And remember: since these are just "exhumed corpses" and therefore include everybody, the number of specifically Albanian civilian deaths during the NATO attack can be no more than a fraction of 108... That's a very low number, not much higher than zero, and very different from 100,000.

And the question remains: who killed them?

NATO says Milosevic, but we have now grown much too suspicious to just believe anything NATO says. So we take that with a grain of salt, and investigate again. And once again, our suspicions are rewarded.

It turns out that NATO dropped bombs primarily on civilian targets, including convoys of tractors and cars full of…Albanian civilians.

So NATO easily killed as many Albanian civilians as a fraction of 108.

But in case NATO needed some help, there is always NATO's ally, the terrorist KLA, which several times proudly claimed responsibility for attacks against defenseless Albanian civilians when these did not cooperate with the KLA's racist program of violence against Serbs.[5]

So what do we have, then?

Well, that, using NATO and the ICTY's own official numbers, as of November 1999, this is all that could be said:

1. The Albanian civilians who died during the NATO bombing were no more than a fraction of 108.


2. NATO’s bombs and KLA terrorism can easily account for all of the Albanian civilian deaths.

Which means. . .what? That NATO did not produce evidence that even one Albanian civilian was murdered by Milosevic's forces!

You, the detective, should now have the following running hypothesis: NATO had other reasons for attacking Yugoslavia, quite different from those stated.[5a] Why? Because the reason they gave was 100% of a lie.

The citizens of NATO states acquiesced in the destruction of civilian Serbia because their governments told them this was necessary to prevent an ongoing humanitarian catastrophe from getting worse. Since the body count in Kosovo shows that there was no such ongoing catastrophe, but rather that NATO bombing is what led to death and destruction, this is a spectacular embarrassment for NATO. Naturally, therefore, NATO does not want its citizens to know that their tax dollars were spent attacking civilians in Europe with excuses that were simply lies.

NATO's problem

And hence NATO's problem. Because the whole idea was to have Slobodan Milosevic put on trial at The Hague for war crimes -- not the KLA, and certainly not NATO.

You may well ask: why is this a ‘problem’? Why not just drop the charges against Milosevic and try NATO and its terrorist ally, the KLA, for war crimes?

But, you see, that's not the function of the Hague Tribunal. It's official name says it all: International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). It was set up for the specific purpose of putting Yugoslavs -- and especially Serbs -- on trial, not NATO officials. This was made perfectly clear on 13 June 2000, when the Hague Tribunal announced that “no investigation [will] be commenced by the OTP [Office of The Prosecutor] in relation to the NATO bombing campaign.”[6]

The key word is commenced. The Tribunal was not saying that it had found NATO 'not guilty' of war crimes violations; it said that “no investigation [will] be commenced. That is, the Tribunal would not ask the question.

Although unjust, this is far from being incomprehensible. The ICTY, after all, was illegally set up by NATO, it is funded by NATO, and NATO appoints the prosecutors.[8] How could the tribunal bite the hand that feeds it?

And given that the Hague Tribunal's function is to help justify NATO's attack on Serbia, we can see why in her November 1999 press conference, Carla del Ponte (above), The Hague's chief prosecutor, appeared to express a hope (!) that “the true number of ethnic Albanian victims may be much higher.”

If one's imperative job is to find Milosevic guilty for 'war crimes', one might assuredly express the grisly hope that the number of Milosevic's civilian victims will turn out to be higher.

Higher than zero, certainly.

But del Ponte’s hoped-for corpses did not materialize, and by August 2000, as the UN and NATO forensic experts wrapped up their investigations, the total body count was barely higher and still…“under 3,000” (the exact number given was 2788).[7] And of these, given NATO's official estimate before the bombing, no more than a fraction of 788 can be Albanian civilians, all of whom can easily be accounted for as victims of NATO and KLA activity.

Without the promised cartloads of murdered Albanians -- or, more precisely, without apparently even a single Albanian civilian murdered by Milosevic's forces -- how was NATO going to get the Yugoslav president to The Hague?

NATO took a year trying to solve that one.

Solving the problem

But then, out of the blue, as they say, NATO suddenly realized that Milosevic’s forces had used freezer trucks to haul thousands of murdered Albanians out of Kosovo, hiding the bodies in Serbia.

Presto! Problem solved.

Never mind that this theory was patently absurd; never mind that before April 2001, in over two years of investigations, this ‘theory’ was never even heard of -- not even hinted at; never mind that this theory was ever so convenient for NATO, and that it didnt appear until long after the forensic investigators had shown NATO accusations to be lies.

Never mind that not one shred of evidence was ever produced to back up this theory.’

Never mind that this theory was trotted out precisely at the moment when NATO demanded of the government it had installed in Serbia that they hand over Milosevic to The Hague.

Never mind. . .

On the strengthof this theory,’ Milosevic was illegally abducted and sent to prison. The outcome was foreordained and did not depend on facts.

I know. You are thinking: "Why didn't I ever hear about all this?"

Because in reality you are not a detective. You have important things to do, and you are quite busy. It is not your job to investigate whether NATO is telling you the truth. That job falls to the mainstream media, which you assume to be 'free.' So you say to yourself, if NATO is putting reality upside down, then anything so obvious will become a scandal in the media. Thus, trusting the media to be a good detective, and since no such scandal emerged, you assumed that NATO's accusations had been just.

This is why, in order to understand what happened, the question of the media cannot be side-stepped. In the next section, therefore, I demonstrate what the media knew and chose to cover up (for a map of everything that follows, see below).

ğğ Continue to part 2:

Map Of What Follows

( hyperlinked
< )


Parts 2 thru 4: I Examine the freezer-truck story on its own
terms and show that it defied all reason.

<  Part 2 -- The media knew the absurd accusations were false

<  Part 3 -- The very idea of massacres was preposterous.

<  Part 4 -- The details of the allegations are one absurdity after another


Part 5: I document that the only source for the entire freezer-truck story denied it. But the press did not follow this up, and instead grew the story lyrically.

<  Part 5 -- The only source for the story...denied it!


Parts 6 thru 9: The Smoking Gun! Here I show that the whole thing was a deliberate hoax perpetrated by the new, NATO-installed government in Belgrade, in order to send Milosevic to The Hague and please their NATO masters. The Belgrade authorities planted a phony story in a magazine called Timocka Krimi Revija, and this is where the allegations began.

<  Part 6 -- The plot to frame Milosevic

<  Part 7 -- The plotter's brother was smuggling Kurds in freezer trucks?

<  Part 8 -- The frame-up: the last Timocka article

<  Part 9 -- There was never any investigation


Footnotes and Further Reading

[1] From the headline below, in The Guardian, you can see what happened to the 100,000 figure after the forensic investigators tried to find the bodies:

The Guardian,  August 18, 2000,  989 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

But even the headline above gets it wrong, because the forensic investigators did not find evidence that the Serbs had murdered "under 3,000" ethnic Albanian civilians. What is true is that they did not find evidence of a single ethnic Albanian civilian murdered by Milosevic's forces. To see how The Guardian article refutes its own headline, visit:

"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 December 2005; by Francisco Gil-White.

The Hague has recently offered an interesting prevarication for the 100,000 figure on NATO’s behalf:

[Quote From Boston Globe Starts Here]

[Graham T.] Blewitt [the deputy chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia], said that the 100,000 figure of missing Kosovars was accurate when given, but that the vast majority of that number had fled Kosovo when Serb forces began a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing after the NATO bombing began. He said tens of thousands of Kosovars had crossed over into Macedonia to stay with relatives or friends, but that there was no reliable system to account for refugees.

The Boston Globe, September 24, 2000, Sunday, Third Edition, Pg. A4, 815 words, 4,000 "Kosovo Slayings Documented Prosecutor Says Real Toll Unknown," By Kevin Cullen, Globe staff

[Quote From Boston Globe Ends Here]

Two sleights of hand here. First “Kosovo Albanians” have become “Kosovars.” Did you notice? Sounds like an endorsement of the view that Kosovo Albanians were in their own country -- which is something other than Serbia -- but not the Kosovo Serbs (who must have been foreigners!).

Second, he says “the 100,000 figure of missing [my emphasis] Kosovars was accurate when given…” The problem with this explanation is that, even if it had been the accurate number of missing Albanians (which it was not), it was not given as a figure of unaccounted-for Albanians, but as a figure of murdered Albanians. That is hardly the same thing, and it means the figure was inaccurate when given.

Finally, Blewitt was lying, because he said the tribunal had documented 4000 slayings (see headline). But in fact the Tribunal's final count, which had been given only a month earlier, was 2,788 bodies -- not even slayings, but bodies, as demonstrated in this article that you are reading.

[1a] The Boston Globe,  April 20, 1999, Tuesday, City Edition,  NATIONAL/FOREIGN; Pg. A1,  974 words,  Up to 500,000 unaccounted for in Kosovo; Missing men feared dead, US reports; CRISIS IN KOSOVO; Kornblut reported from Albania. Material from the Associated Press and Reuters was used in the preparation of this article.,  By Bob Hohler and Anne E. Kornblut, Globe Staff.

[2] In late May 1999, the Hague Tribunal decided to indict Slobodan Milosevic for war crimes. See: The New York Times,  May 27, 1999, Thursday, Late Edition - Final,  Section A; Page 1; Column 6; Foreign Desk,  1323 words, "Crisis In The Balkans: The Indictment; Tribunal Is Said To Cite Milosevic For War Crimes," By Roger Cohen, Brussels, May 26

[3] Reuters, 11-10-99

[4] “In Kosovo, an estimated 2000 people died from February last year until March this year under President Slobodan Milosevic's crackdown on ethnic Albanian rebels.” The Daily Telegraph,  June 5, 1999, Saturday,  WORLD; Pg. 20,  1026 words,  Last hours of an evil dream - But NATO leaders still wary of Milosevic,  Tom Hundley

[4a] The quote comes from a Wall Street Journal article by Daniel Pearl (since murdered) and Robert Block, which, as early as 1999, and against the onslaught of Western propaganda, was already raising questions about NATO’s alleged body counts.

Notice below that what Pearl and Block were arguing against was the scaled-down - but still nonsense - claim by NATO of 10,000 dead Albanian civilians:

[Quote From Wall Street Journal Starts Here]

“British and American officials still maintain that 10,000 or more ethnic-Albanian civilians died at Serb hands during the fighting in Kosovo. The U.N.’s International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has accused Serbs of covering up war crimes by moving bodies. It has begun its own military analysis of the Serb offensive. But the number of bodies discovered so far is much lower - 2,108 as of November, and not all of them necessarily war-crimes victims.

While more than 300 reported grave sites remain to be investigated, the tribunal has checked the largest reported sites first, and found most to contain no more than five bodies... [b] The KLA helped form the West’s wartime image of Kosovo.  International human-rights groups say officials of the guerrilla force served on the Kosovo-based Council for the Defence of Human Rights and Freedoms, whose activists were often the first to interview refugees arriving in Macedonia. Journalists later cited the council’s missing-persons list to support theories about how many people died in Kosovo, and the State Department this month echoed the council’s recent estimate of 10,000 missing. But the number has to be taken on faith: Western investigators say the council won’t share its list of missing persons.”[a]

[Quote From Wall Street Journal Ends Here]

The key point above is this: “The KLA…served on the Kosovo-based Council for the Defence of Human Rights and Freedoms…[and]…the council’s missing-persons list [was used] to support theories about how many people died in Kosovo…”

So now we know where the 10,000 missing-person figure comes from: the KLA.

It is in principle absurd to ask the KLA - the Yugoslav army's enemy - to give us the tally of how many civilians the Yugoslav army has supposedly murdered. In practice, it is even more absurd, because the KLA were infamous liars who staged numerous hoaxes. Moreover, it was well known that they were terrorists (see Part 2 for both points).

None of this bothered the reporters, whose helpful translators, as Pearl and Block explain, were members of the Kosovo-based (and so-called) Council for the Defence of Human Rights and Freedoms - a creature of the KLA!

Neither were they troubled that the ‘estimate’ of missing Albanian civilians could not even be checked because the KLA-controlled Council was not releasing their supposed ‘list’ of missing persons! As Pearl and Block say, “the number has to be taken on faith.”

Journalists, these days, are strong in the faith. An entire system is devoted to preventing them from investigating anything.[c]

[local footnotes below]

[a] The Wall Street Journal, December 31, 1999. "War In Kosovo Was Cruel, Bitter, Savage; Genocide It Wasn’t." by Daniel Pearl and Robert Block

[b] The ellipsis occurs because I shortened the sentence. In the original text the full sentence reads: “While more than 300 reported grave sites remain to be investigated, the tribunal has checked the largest reported sites first, and found most to contain no more than five bodies suggesting intimate acts of barbarity rather than mass murder.”

It is a mistake to write this way. Finding 5 bodies in a grave does not, by itself, suggest an act of barbarity at all, whether intimate or not. That depends on the forensic evidence, not on the number of dead found. It is very common for more than one combatant to share a grave when the burying of the dead is happening in conditions of war. “Mass grave” does not equal “massacre.” I didn’t want anybody to read that full sentence without also reading this point, so I put it here.

[c] Rick Grant, who has “been on both sides of the fence” and has advised “aid groups on how to handle the media and…managed information campaigns directed at foreign correspondents” says the following about modern journalism:

“[journalism] is becoming as managed, influenced, nuanced and manipulated, [as] the worst of government spin-controlled news… Over the past year, I’ve experienced first hand a remarkable change in how the media works when reporting on humanitarian disasters in such places as Albania, Kosovo, East Timor and, from a distance, in Chechyna. Amid the hellish dangers of such places, there is a formal dance of intricate detail between United Nations officials, aid workers, reporters and news managers. It’s a dance that allows a reporter newly parachuted into some vile human emergency to be filing stories to the news desk within hours, direct from the front lines or from the edge of a mass grave. The days of a foreign correspondent needing to spend huge amounts of time just finding out where to go for information in a disaster area - after spending hours or days just trying to find accommodation and a place from which to file stories - are gone. Instead, there is an mobile, worldwide army of disaster officials, information officers, spokespersons and spin doctors that can provide itinerant reporters with everything they need, including food, lodging and transportation. Indeed, it is possible for a lazy reporter - and there are many of those - to file as though from the circles of hell while sitting in comfort at a five-star hotel. Information flow and control by UN agencies and relief groups is so complete that it is possible for a reporter to make a name reporting a humanitarian disaster without leaving Ottawa, New York or London.”
From: The Ottawa Citizen, April 20, 2000, Thursday, FINAL, 1030 words, Manufacturing content: Aid organizations and political groups drive the news from the world’s hot spots., Rick Grant

[5] Here is an example: “The clandestine Albanian separatist movement Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) has vowed 'multiple vengeance for the innocent deaths' in the Serbian region's central Drenica area, in a statement published Wednesday…The UCK, a group that wants the province to secede, has claimed responsibility for numerous deadly attacks against Serbian civilians and Albanians loyal to the Belgrade regime.” Agence France Presse,  March 04, 1998,  International news,  243 words, "Albanian separatists vow 'multiple vengeance'"

[5a] To understand better some of the geopolitical reasons behind the US attack on Yugoslavia, read the following:

* "Hawks and Eagles: 'Greater NATO' Flies to the Aid of 'Greater Albania' ", by Diana Johnstone

* "German And Us Involvement In The Balkans: A Careful Coincidence Of National Policies?" by T.W. Carr, Associate Publisher, Defense & Foreign Affairs Publications. London

[6] “On the basis of the information available, the committee recommends that no investigation be commenced by the OTP in relation to the NATO bombing campaign or incidents occurring during the campaign.”

This is the last, concluding line in: ICTY, Final Report to the Prosecutor by the Committee established to Review the NATO bombing Campaign Against the FRY, PR/P.I.S./510-E, 13 June 2000

This document may be found in Krieger, H. (2001). The Kosovo conflict and international law: An analytical documentation 1974-1999, Cambridge International Documents Series, Volume II. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (pp.340-352).

[7] The Guardian,  August 18, 2000,  989 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

[8] To see the amazing bias with which court proceedings are conducted at The Hague, see:

"The Judge As Prosecutor: Two Days At The 'Trial' Of Slobodan Milosevic"; Emperor's Clothes; 19 June 2002; by Ian Johnson

And even more spectacular evidence of this bias comes from what happened at the cross-examination of Rade Markovic. It has to be seen to be believed:

"Slobodan Milosevic Cross-Examines Rade Markovic"; Emperor's Clothes; 14 September 2002; comments by Jared Israel

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"; Emperor’s Clothes; 30 June 2001; by Jared Israel

And consider also this:

"Madeleine Albright...eager for war in Kosovo... hand-picked Canada's Louise Arbour to be [ICTY -- Hague Tribunal] war crimes prosecutor, who had no experience with the Balkans and tended to believe every atrocity claimed by the Muslims."

The Ottawa Sun, April 15, 2001 Sunday, Final Edition, Comment;, Pg. C4;, 868 words, "Keeping Peace, Making War; Documentary Argues That If Nato Had Stayed Out Of The Kosovo Conflict, The Balkan People Would Have Been Better Off," Peter Worthington, Toronto Sun, Toronto.










































































































































































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