04 April 2006

Serbian paper describes Kosovo's Cheku as "scorched earth general"

BBC Monitoring International Reports - March 2, 2006, Thursday


Text of report by D.T. entitled "General of scorched earth" published by the Serbian newspaper Politika on 2 March


An Interpol warrant was issued in 2002 for Agim Ceku, commander of the Kosovo Protection Corps [KPC; TMK in Albanian], at the request of the Serbian MUP [Interior Ministry] for crimes committed against Serb civilians in Kosovo-Metohija. Ceku has been indicted of the crime by the prosecution of the District Court in Nis.


On the strength of this warrant, the Hungarian border guard service detained the KPC commander on Sunday, 29 February 2004, as he was returning with 40 other KPC members from an exercise in Ostrava in the Czech Republic. Agim Ceku, together with the group of senior KPC officials, was released after two hours.


Ceku has been accused also of genocide against the Serb community in Kosovo-Metohija; he was put on trial before the District Court in Pristina. After the signing of the Kumanovo Agreement on 9 June 1999, this court was moved to Nis, which is something UNMIK [UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo] does not recognize. In mid-October 2003, Ceku was taken into custody at Ljubljana's Brnik Airport on the same warrant; he was released after 12 hours.


In 1991, Agim Ceku, then with the rank of captain in the JNA [Yugoslav People's Army], deserted from the then Yugoslav Army and joined the Croatian National Guard Corps (ZNG). Together with Mirko Norac, Tomislav Mercep, and Tihomir Oreskovic, Ceku organized the first attack on a JNA garrison in Gospic on 18 September 1991. Media reported that, after taking control of the garrison, Ceku was involved in the abduction and murder of 156 prominent Serbs. Later, Ceku was suspected of involvement in the killing of Serbs in the Medak Pocket, where 87 innocent civilians were brutally liquidated.


He returned to Kosovo in the spring of 1998, where in the Kosovo Liberation Army [KLA; OVK in Serbian; UCK in Albanian] he succeeded his main rival Jakup Krasniqi, who was killed in the meantime. Ceku became OVK commander soon after Krasniqi's death. The appointment was made at a meeting held in Albania on 13 May 1999, while NATO air strikes were in progress.


The first sign of Ceku's "active" presence in Kosmet [Kosovo-Metohija] came with the discovery of a "crematorium" near the village of Klecka. That crime was strongly reminiscent of Ceku's crimes in the Krajina region [Croatia], which had earned him the nickname of "general of scorched earth." International forces were deployed to Kosmet in the summer of 1999, after which, in the fall of that year, the OVK was officially disbanded and replaced by the Kosovo Protection Corps. Ceku was made commander of that formation, a job he holds to this day.


Source: Politika, Belgrade, in Serbian 2 Mar 06 p8