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Thursday, 14 February, 2002, 04:31 GMT
Kosovo glee at Milosevic plight
Investigators at the scene of Racak massacre
Many of the dead of Racak were mutilated
By the BBC's Arber Vllahiu in Pristina

The trial of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is a show few would want to miss in Kosovo.

Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic
Kosovo Albanians blame Mr Milosevic for the Racak massacre
It is here, after all, that the story of the man who dominated Yugoslav politics for much of the 1980s and 90s began and ended.

The hundreds of thousands who were displaced en masse in 1998 and 1999 cannot help deriving pleasure from seeing "the butcher" in the spotlight.

For them, the trial in The Hague is justice come too late.


"They wanted the sun to warm only them! They thought only about themselves, and they wanted to destroy us. And they did it," says Fejze Beqiri, looking desperate next to the graves of more then 40 fellow villagers killed in January 1999 in Racak, 25 kilometres (15 miles) southwest of the Kosovo capital Pristina.

There are many others who have committed crimes against us. Justice would only be done if all of them were together with Milosevic there in The Hague

Sheremet Krasniqi
Mr Beqiri, 75, remembers the day of the crime with mixed feelings.

He says he is desperate that justice is coming "too late" to those he considers to be guilty for the crime committed in the village.

Nevertheless, the old man of Racak could not hide his happiness that "the man responsible for all the bad things" was facing the judges in The Hague.

'Hated name'

Slobodan Milosevic's name became hated among Kosovo Albanians from the end of the 1980s.

Hundreds of Albanian families want retribution for those killed and for others whose whereabouts are still unknown.

I never thought Milosevic would face international justice

Arsim M
In the village Izbica, 50 kilometres (30 miles) northwest of Pristina, live the Krasniqis.

After separating the men from the women and children in March 1999, Serbian forces executed 150 mainly elderly people in Izbica.

The head of the household, Sheremet Krasniqi, a survivor of the execution, shakes his head dissatisfied.

"Milosevic is not the only one who committed crimes. He is the main one, the one who gave the orders, but there are many others who committed crimes against us. Justice would only be done if all of them were together with Milosevic there - in The Hague," he says.

Cafe show

There is not a single house or cafe in Kosovo where people do not follow the trial against the man called the "Butcher of the Balkans".

Glued to their television sets, residents of Pristina have left the streets looking deserted.

In one cafe, packed full of people and cigarette smoke, everyone looks glad and elated - the very same people who were once kicked out of their homes by force.

"I never thought Milosevic would face international justice. Even when he was arrested in Belgrade, I did not believe he would be transferred to The Hague," says Arsim M - before turning back to the television screen.

"But now I am sure that he and his colleagues will definitely face charges for everything they have done to us, and to Bosnia and Croatia. And for all they have done against humanity."

In Kosovo, they say justice may arrive late, but it never fails to turn up.

The BBC's Alan Little
"From the beginning, Milosevic has turned the court on its head"
The BBC's Jon Silverman
"No trial since Nuremberg... has been charged with more significance"
See also:

12 Feb 02 | Europe
Serbs stop work to watch trial
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