Sunday, October 23, 2005

Serb "soldier" unapolegetic to the end


Deathbed interview with Serbian who fled to Argentina and was wanted for execution of Albanians in Kosovo war of 1999.

Picture-A party of Serb militia fighters stand in front of a captured Albanian symbol. Among the most notorious militia commanders in Pec/Peje were Vidomir Salipur (center, standing) and Nebjosa Minic (standing, right). Minic called himself, Mrtvi, Serbian for "The Dead." In the lower left is Milan Kaljevic.

BY MATTHEW McALLESTERSTAFF
Chicago Tribune
MENDOZA, Argentina -- The sallow skin on Nebojsa Minic's semi-paralyzed, skull-like face was tight and smooth over cheekbones, chin and the empty valleys of once-full cheeks. The Serb's large ears flopped against the hospital pillow like empty socks. You could have put your hand around his once-powerful, tattooed legs and almost touched thumb to finger. To make himself understood, he would nod or shake his head slightly. But even as the rest of his body was dying, the blue eyes of the man who in the Kosovo war of 1999 allegedly terrorized the town of Pec/Peje were still alive.


"Do you know that a lot of people hate you?" he was asked in a yes-or-no answer session on Tuesday night in his heavily guarded hospital room in the country where he had fled under a false passport in 2003.The blue eyes stared back unblinking, unapologetic, unafraid, and then they rolled up and to the left in a shrug whose message was clear: I don't care.

Minic, 41 died 48 hours later. His death from AIDS complications and cancer was long, painful and far from his beloved Serbia, but it provided him with an escape from the justice awaiting him in a court in his homeland, whose government had requested his extradition after he was arrested here in May.One of a growing number of suspected war criminals who have fled the former Yugoslavia for the sanctuary of foreign countries, Minic was the type of mid- to low-level killer in the Balkan wars who does not generally attract the kind of attention given to high-profile suspects like Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, who has been charged with genocide.

Nicknamed "Dead," an acknowledged commander of a ruthless police and paramilitary unit called Munje, or Lightning, Minic was an unusually well-documented war criminal in spite of his comparatively low rank. Human Rights Watch and several reporters had amassed a large amount of material about his war crimes in 1999, including a 2002 book by this reporter that focused on his reportedly ordering the killing of an Albanian family after the cease-fire. It was for that crime that the Serbian government requested his extradition this summer, and it was that crime that spurred a local Argentine police official to pursue Minic, who was living in Argentina under a false identity.

Behind a family's death

Yesterday afternoon, the Kosovar Albanian man whose family Minic ordered killed, according to witnesses interviewed in 1999 and 2000, stood in his butcher shop in Pec/Peje and was told Minic was dead. He erupted with fury, using obscenities to describe Minic, shouting and waving his large hands around in the air of the butcher shop.Bala lost seven members of his family in the killing, including three of his five children."I wish he was here, in this shop without a rifle, only me and him, only me and him. I would chop him up ... What is justice? Justice would have been to bring him and the others to me. I would know what to do with them. I would put them into the meat grinder one by one."

On Minic's orders, witnesses and survivors said, two of his men lined up Bala's entire family on couches in their home and shot them with automatic rifles from close range.Many of the details of Minic's journey from Serbia to Argentina, a country that suffers from a long reputation of harboring European war criminals, remain vague and perhaps lost with Minic. But in Tuesday's interview, he acknowledged he had worked as a mercenary in Africa after the war in Kosovo.

Argentine police officials said Minic entered Argentina with a false passport after being in Bolivia and Chile.Minic apparently came here to collect a debt owed to another Serb in Chile, said Omar Perez Botti, who was head of local intelligence when he ultimately arrested Minic in May. Perez Botti said he believed that Minic and the Serb in Chile, Ivan Zorotovic Bozanic, were part of a larger network of Serbs in the region who help each other out, as former Nazis began to do in South America after World War II.

Hiding out in Argentina,the tall, muscular Minic, his body tattooed with dragons, scorpions and the faces of women, didn't speak Spanish, yet before long he had a local girlfriend. Like many others who met him here, Iris Palomares spoke on Wednesday about her former lover's charisma and ability to make her and others do what he wanted.Minic called himself Vlada Radivojevic then. He told the divorced Palomares that he had been a soldier in the wars in the former Yugoslavia and that he had left that country in search of a new life, trying to forget the horrors he had witnessed and the friends he had lost in battle. At times, he would sink into depression and even threaten to kill himself."He was always trying to make you feel sorry for him, trying to make you help him," Palomares, 52, a teacher, said in an interview in a local cafe. "I don't understand how as a grown woman I didn't see all this."

She let him live in a family house and loaned him the money to buy and run a pizzeria, which he named La Bomba - The Bomb.One night, when he had been drinking, the man Palomares knew as Vlada told her and her children he had a "war name" and would show them who he really was on the Internet. He was Nebojsa Minic, he said.They sat down at the family's computer and he tried to find himself online but somehow failed.The relationship soured. Minic left Palomares and began a relationship with another local woman, Anahi Escobedo, 55, who would nurse him until his death.

True identity revealed

Palomares tried to see him. She was furious and remembered that night in her kitchen when he had told her who he really was.This time, she went to an Internet cafe with the name and searched for Minic on Yahoo and Google. This time, she found him. There were numerous mentions of him on the Human Rights Watch site. She printed out some of the information, including a photo of the man she had loved holding a machine gun, a cigarette dangling from his lips, glaring at the camera.

Vlada, according to the information online, was a war criminal named Nebojsa Minic. Among other alleged crimes, he had ordered the killing of Isa Bala's family.Palomares took the information to the police in early March and, later that month, it landed on the desk of Perez Botti. He began to investigate and found irregularities and inconsistencies in the documentation that surrounded this Serb immigrant's presence in Argentina. He became convinced that Radivojevic was Minic and put him under surveillance.

On May 12, Perez Botti obtained an arrest warrant for Minic. The same morning, word came through to his office that the Serbian authorities in Belgrade had a match for Radivojevic's fingerprints. This man was Minic, the prints confirmed.

Minic in custody

Minic was arrested at about 10 a.m. at a local hospital where he had gone because he was feeling extremely unwell. He had AIDS and had developed Hodgkin's disease, doctors told him.With Minic in custody, Perez Botti realized something unsettling: There were no warrants out for him. Neither the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague nor the Serbian courts wanted him.Daniel Wilkinson and Bogdan Ivanisovic, researchers at Human Rights Watch in New York and Belgrade, respectively, worked to change that. After months of advocacy and phone calls, pushing and prodding, the Serbian government requested Minic's extradition.

But by late summer, Minic's medical condition meant he was never going to make it back to Serbia. The legal process continued, Minic's Argentine lawyer fought for his release, and Minic told Escobedo over and over that all he wanted was to go home to die.His latest court appearance was scheduled for Oct. 28. But on Tuesday, in his private room, guarded by five police officers, Minic was obviously living his last days.

No remorse for his past

Without realizing he was being interviewed by a reporter whom he reportedly was keen to kill at one stage, Minic agreed to answer questions, again answering or nodding only "yes" or "no". He did not know the Bala family. He knew one of the two gunmen and other members of Lightning. He did not feel guilty about anything. He was a patriot. He was a soldier. And no, there were no rules in war.

There were no criminals and no crimes in war. Killing children was not a crime in war.He believed in God and was a Serbian Orthodox Christian. God loved him. He knew he was about to die. He was angry that Serbia lost the war, angry that the Albanians won Pec/Peje, angry with God.

Yes, he killed people. He didn't know how many. He knew Arkan, the notorious leader of Serb paramilitaries in the Balkan wars. But he didn't like him or work for him."I'm no criminal," he said, barely audible.Did the Albanians deserve to die?"Partly," he croaked.

Escobedo held cigarettes to his mouth and he coughed deeply in his skeletal chest. He grew tired of talking. He had not confessed. He had not shown remorse.He died Tuesday morning at 8:45 a.m. Escobedo was holding his hand as it went limp. His eyes were open.

A nurse bustled along the corridor and said she wasn't sure how they were going to identify him on his death certificate. They still weren't sure who he really was. The coffee mug by his bed had "Vlada" written on it.Minic had said to both of his girlfriends that he liked Mendoza because the way the Argentine plain met the foothills of the Andes reminded him of Pec/Peje, where the Mountains of the Damned tower over the town."I think we'll cremate his body," Escobedo said, gently stroking Minic's left foot.

She looked down at the man she loved, the man so many in Pec/Peje and beyond detested. "We'll throw him among the mountains like he wanted."
Special correspondent Enver Doda contributed from Pec/Peje.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

the roof, the roof is on fire
DIE MOTHER PHOCKER DIE...HA HA HA HA
die mother phocur DIE...one bye one .. it IS GODS punishment....that you have caused so much pain AND suffring TO SO MANY PEOPLE and have destoyed so many familis,,,,,,,, HERE IT GOES ...... THE ROOF, THE ROOF IS ON FIRE
DIE MOTHER PHOCKER.. DIE... HA HA H HA HA. YOU KNOW THE WAY HE DIED IN A LONG SUFFRING AND PAINFULL WAY... I BELIVE IT IS A JUSTICE DONE ... A BULLET OR IN PRISON IT IS NOT ENOUGH FOR THESE MONSTERS.I PRAY TO GOD THAT THE REST OF THEM HAVE THE SAME FATE OR WORSE SUFFRING THAN THIS MONSTER HAD
LONG LIVE KOSOVA IT IS OUR TURN NOW TO RULE THE SERBS AND THERE IS NO STOPPING BABY NO STOPPING

Anonymous said...

God forgive him, because he did not know what he was doing... Sinfull man... Sorry for his victims and thir families... Many Albanians were not much differnt if not worse.... znanjeimanje

Ferick said...

No- The just God will not forgive such a monster who worked in cahoots with devil! Maybe the Serbian version of God will forgive him. The God that the rest of the world knows will shut down the doors of heaven to this monster and keep in hell with the rest of his friend Salipur.
Anyone who says Albanians were worst that this monster shall be sent to hell as well cuz God forbids attempts to humanize a monster (above bloger).

Ferick said...

Correction:

The God that the rest of the world knows will shut down the doors of heaven to this monster and keep him in hell with the rest of his friends, including Salipur.

Anonymous said...

Obviously ill. We could use people like him in the army, but not on his own. He wasted his life, and the lives of others. Its sad to see how low someone can sink.

Ferik said...

I knew this guy and Salipur very well. Both were big time thugs in Peja even before the war. Salipur was the overall commander of the paramilitaries/thugs of the Peje region. Most of them didn't have families (abandon babies- grew up in state institutions), and were used by the Serbian Police and the Army to carry its dirty work. At the time there was speculation that these people were like dogs- state raised them and used them for whatever purpose it wanted. These people didn't have any human emotion.

In one occasion in 1997 I was walking in the street (Between Peje and Monenegro) and Salipur stopped his car and asked me to go to his car. He grabbed his revolver and put it to my face. When he told me that he was Salipur, I was really scared- I was just a kid then and I had heard some horrible things about him. I think the only thing that saved me on that occasion was the Serbian whore he had on the back of his car who was partially naked and didn't want to be seen by the public.

I have a lot of friends who were beaten badly by Minic and Salipur personally. These guys were really insane- they would beat and kill people for no reason. In 1998 they almost beat to death a 79 year old cleric in the vicinity of Peja just because he didn't speak Serbian very well. They really were true monsters.

But God does really work in mysterious ways. Salipur was ambushed by KLA and killed with two of his colleagues in Radavac in April of 1999. Guess who was a part of the group who ambushed his SUV? My brother-He told me the story how they found Salipur dying and how some of his friends, who were wounded, were attempting to reach Minic by Radio. Thanks God it was too late. When Minic came an hour later he was almost killed himself. He collected the dead monsters and burned about 10 houses in revenge.
I was really delighted to see this other monster -Minic- suffer and die the way he did. I did get my revenge. Unfortunately many other victims of Peja didn't get to see these two monsters die. Hopefully they will now be able to rest in their graves- the monsters are now in hell for good.
Ferick.

Anonymous said...

Long live Minic!!!!

We need more like him, he was a true Serb. You say that he was a monster? Why don't you look at what those mother fuckin Albanians did to serbs. They are the basterds that need to go to HELL!!!!

Ferick said...

He can't be living any longer because he is dead. I guess you meant long live Minic in hell where he will be for eternetiy.

How can you say long live to someone that is not living?Elighten as with your logic please.

Now I think I am starting to understand why Serbs say long live Serbian rule in Kosovo. Ok, we can live with with this kind of Serbian rule- A dead thing does no harm!

Anonymous said...

The Serbs need to be tought a lesson,take the north part (Vojvodina)avay from them and then close the borders,and no dealings with them at all,let them think about all the things they done and still do,they are not to be trusted.Let them suffer in powerty and dirt,that's the only way for them to see that other people deserve better than what they giving to others.

Anonymous said...

How many Innocent Serbs were killed by Albanian Muslim Narco-Terrorists in the past decade??

You people on here are sick hypocrites!

Enver said...

What we kosovar albanians did is ok, because West (amerika) support us. We will continue to do the same until world give us free land

Anonymous said...

Yuo guys dont deserve kosovo becxause it belongs to the serbs.
Just because theres more of you living there doesn't mean kosovo should be independant. If there were more serbs living in a albanian province and we wanted independance. You know what the answer would be??? HELL NO!!! And what the U.S. believes is there opinion but Kosovo is serbian land. Why in the world should the world give you free land??? For killing innocent serbs and burning their homes down?

Ferick said...

To the 2:59 PM:
I will answer that question to you:
Albanians killed a maximum of 2,000 Serbs in the last 15 years.

Now my question is, how many people did Serbs killed during the last 15 years?
Here is the answer:

Albanians slaughtered by Serbs: 15,000.
Bosnians slaughtered by Serbs:
Minimum of 200,000

Croats slaughtered by Serbs:
20,000-40,000.

Now what do you have to say?
Should the world let Serbs live in Serbia? According to your logic, no.
What do you know about yourself?

Anonymous said...

If you knew something. You would know that what you are saying is all bs.

Why don't you write the truth

Serbs killed by bosnians- 100 thousand

Serbs killed by croats- 750 000 to 1 million

Serbs killed by Albanians- 5000

Now what do u have to say.
Idi u tri picke matirine! glupi shiptaru.

Anonymous said...

And there is more from where that came from

Anonymous said...

kosovo je srbija shiptari.