Victims' representative in The Hague: The Serbs, Albanians, and Roma people are among the victims, and they are all connected by the same suffering

Suđenje čelnicima OVK
Source: Specijalni sud u Hagu

Victims' representative Simon Laws said today at the trial of KLA leaders in The Hague that their victims had been Serbs, Albanians, Christians, and Muslims, people who had not been involved in politics, but also those who had been members of the LDK, stressing that over all of them, a terrible crime had been committed, for which there was no justification.

He believes that the victims of KLA crimes have been waiting for 25 years to face those responsible for their suffering.

"At least in part, we are here today thanks to the persistence of the victims. Today I speak on behalf of those victims, regardless of the differences between them because they are all bound by the evil that was done to them. Suffering, pain, loss, and injustice do not discriminate and they affect all people equally. We all bleed in the same way and mourn the loss of loved ones in the same way, regardless of our ethnic origin, or where our fathers are from, and regardless of our political beliefs," the representative of the victims said.

He stated that among the victims there were different attitudes towards the KLA and that there were victims who had been members of the KLA or had supported them, and there were also those who had been and remained against the actions of that army.

Laws emphasized that the entire KLA organization was not being tried in The Hague, but for the criminal acts committed by certain members of the KLA.

"Our intention is that two things should not be excluded during the trial. First, that these events happened to real people, and secondly, that this trial is of enormous importance for those people. The first thing that is important to emphasize is that the victims in this case are very different, they are not a homogeneous group but a cross-section of Kosovo society as it was in 1998 and 1999. Among them are members of the Albanian, Serbian, and Roma communities, and there are members of the Muslim, Orthodox, and Catholic faiths. Some were not interested in politics at all, and others were members of the LDK. Some were children when crimes were committed against members of their families, and others were middle-aged people," the representative of the victims said.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that even though they are all grouped together for representation purposes, says Laws, they are still individuals, and what they have in common is that they are all victims of crimes for which there was no justification.

He explained that the victims had been intercepted in their homes, on trips, or at celebrations, and had been taken away forcibly and at gunpoint.

"Some of them experienced purely physical suffering, were beaten, abused, and tortured in ways that left lasting effects. Those who were tortured experienced lasting suffering and continue to suffer to this day, because of the traumas and nightmares in which they return to the days when their daily lives were filled with pain. Their losses did not end there, for many of the survivors the greatest loss was their inner peace," Laws said.

He concludes that people who have been subjected to violence will never be the same again, and among the victims are those who suffer from the loss of spouses, parents, brothers, sisters, and children.

He said that the judicial process should be focused on discovering the truth, and it was also important to "admit guilt", because, as he said, the victims had the right to discover the truth.