Apl 04, 2000Human rights activist says Serbs held in clandestine detention centres
NOVI PAZAR, Yugoslavia - At least five clandestine detention centres packed largely with Serbs are operating in Kosovo under the control of ethnic Albanian guards, a human rights activist told AFP.
Repeating claims made to the Beta news agency last week, the chief of the Helsinki Committee in Sandzak, a largely Muslim area in south-western Serbia, maintained that close to 150 people were being kept in confined spaces throughout the NATO-controlled province.
"I confirm that camps of Serbs exist in Kosovo," said Sefko Alomerovic.
Both Kosovo'a NATO-led peacekeeping force, KFOR, and the International Committee of the Red Cross insisted last week that they had no knowledge of the prisons and that searches for detention centres had proved fruitless.
Alomerovic asserted that the detention centres were not so much "camps," but rather "closed spaces, most often in basements or garages, in which between 10 and 50 people are enclosed."
Arguing that members of the local Helsinki Committee had seen such centres with their own eyes, he added that there "are at least five camps, in which at least 142 non-Albanians people are kept, the vast majority of them Serbs."
Even more centres were probably operating, and could prove the whereabouts of some of the thousand people reported missing in Kosovo, he claimed.
"There's no proof that these people were killed, so where are they? There are no bodies, there are no mass graves, and they aren't in the official prisons," observed Alomerovic, adding that KFOR was probably "aware of their (the camps') existence."