We torched everything!

Published on May 15, 2006, Vecernje Novosti

Category: Organized Crime in Kosovo

By Zeljko Pantelic



Translated by sib on May 17, 2006

Organized Albanian criminal groups involved in the sale of drugs, people, illegal immigration, etc. were behind the March 2004 pogrom against Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija. This conclusion follows from taped telephone conversations between leaders of Albanian mafia organizations which since 2003 have been illegally transferring hundreds of illegal emigrants per year from Kosovo to Italy, and who were uncovered by Italian police at the beginning of this week.

By wiretapping the conversations of Albanian criminals, investigating prosecutors in Bari, led by prosecutor Giuseppe Scelsi discovered that the killing of 19 Serbs, the expulsion of several thousand Orthodox Christians and the torching of their churches was pre-planned and orchestrated.

"Hell, torch all the churches," one of the mafia bosses ordered in a telephone conversation.

"We've already torched them all," his collocutor on the other side responded.

Several conversations were also taped in which the criminals vaingloriously called their friends to tell them they had torched the churches and to turn on the television so they can see the results of their work.

The Italian police operation uncovered several Albanian organizations from Kosovo which ran illegal emigrant routes with the help of tourist agencies, falsified documents and fictitious marriages. At the top of the Albanian criminal hierarchy were Jashar Bitiqi (35) residing in Treviso, who piloted the work of three tourist agencies which served as fronts for illegal emigration. These were the agencies "Jaha Tours" in Treviso, "Saba Tours" in Suva Reka and "Poluxha Tours".

There were three channels for illegally entering Italy. The first was Prizren (Suva Reka) - Drac - Bari - Treviso and the "ticket" for transportation to the Apennine peninsula cost 3,300 euros. Whoever wanted to legalize their stay in Italy could get a fictitious wife or husband with regular papers for 8,000 euros, and a valid residence visa as a family member. The second channel was a minor variation of the first; the disembarkation was in Brindisi, not in Bari, and the price ranged from 3,000 to 3,500 euros. The fourth route, from Kosovo through Macedonia and Greece to Ancona in Italy, was the cheapest at 2,500 euros.

Investigators also found a fourth channel for illegal emigration leading to Italy through Serbia, Hungary and Austria. The procedure was very simple: those interested in emigrating from Kosovo would pay the asked for amounts and in exchange receive false documents and visas. They would be loaded onto supposed tourist buses and enter Italy as false tourists, where would then illegally remain.

TRANSCRIPTS OF TAPED ALBANIAN CONVERSATIONS

EVERYTHING IS BURNING, BURNING...

"Novosti" encloses a part of the transcript of the recorded telephone
conversation between two Albanians, Hazer (H) and Muharem (M):

M: Hello
H: Hi, Rema, how are things going?
M: Alright.
H: You're still asleep?
M: Yes.
H: Why don't you ask your brother where he is?
M: Why, you're in Mitrovica, right?
H: No, I'm not in Mitrovica... We've torched all the churches in Prizren.
M: Hell, torch them all!
H: We've already torched them all, turn on the television so you can see
them burning!
M: I just turned it on.
H: They're showing Prizren right now... All the church have been torched,
not one is left.

In a conversation between Hazer and another, unidentified man (U), the
latter appeared to be quite cautious and did not want to talk about torched
churches by telephone:

H: - Where are you?
U: - At Bujar's.
H: - We burned them all, the bitches... everything is in flames, all of
Yugoslavia.
U: - I know, I was there until just recently...
H: - You were there? And at that church...
U: - And the church was torched?
H: - The local church... I was proposing that we make an agreement... KFOR
pulled back and a little later they told me we had torched it.
U: - Don't talk like that, you'll destroy us all.
H: - (laughs) Oh, why are you afraid, my brother.
U: - Leave it alone, you know they tap the phones. Don't talk [about this]
over the telephone.
H: - Come on, don't worry…


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