PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Kosovo leaders on Tuesday urged Serbia to accept the 1999 genocide that its former regime committed in Serbia’s former province of Kosovo.
Kosovo commemorated the 23rd anniversary of the massacre at Rezalle, a village 50 kilometers (35 miles) west of the capital, Pristina, where Serb army, police and paramilitary forces killed 98 ethnic Albanians. Some of the dead corpses are still missing.
Serb forces surrounded the village, gathered all the men and executed them, then tried to hide their corpses. Only three of them managed to escape.
Seven of those killed in Rezalle were returned last September from a mass grave in Kizevac, Serbia.
Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti said Serbia’s genocide is known worldwide and called on justice authorities to hold accountable and to punish the “responsible persons and decision-makers and executors.”
“That massacre is a testimony of Serbia’s genocide in Kosovo,” said Kurti.
A bloody 1998-1999 conflict between Serbia and ethnic Albanian separatists in Kosovo, then a Serbian province, left more than 12,000 dead and about 1,600 people still missing. NATO’s intervention in the form of a bombing campaign on Serbia ended the war.
Kosovar Speaker Glauk Konjufca called on Serbia to hand over the remains of hundreds of other slain ethnic Albanians who are “kept hidden in military polygons.”
“We shall not stop until Serbia is held accountable for the committed genocide and all the criminals of the Rezalle massacre and other massacres in Kosovo are punished,” said Konjufca.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, a move recognized by the United States and most EU nations. Serbia has refused to recognize Kosovo as separate nation after 11 years of EU-brokered negotiations.