Assessment of HLC’s comparison of sources regarding war victims in Kosovo 1998-99.


Part two of my lecture, which is called “comparison of sources”, is tied to a section of the Humanitarian Law Centre’s presentation of Expert Evaluation regarding the Kosovo Memory Book and four other documentarists, myself included, dealing with the same subject, namely victims of the war in Kosovo 1998-99.

The Kosovo Trilogy 1998-99” is my documentation of what happened in Kosovo based on my research and international documentation in the aftermath of Serbian withdrawal from Kosovo in mid-June 1999.

The most significant and probably the most horrible of what happened in Kosovo 1998-99 is the planned killing of thousands of innocent civilian Albanian women, children and men found in approximately 400 mass graves scattered around Kosovo and Serbia.

These mass graves have been my focus from the autumn of 2006, since they had been forgotten first and foremost by the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), then by other NGOs operating in Kosovo, and last but not least, by the local government in Kosovo.

Dr. Patrick Ball PhD, Executive Director of the Human Rights Data Analysis Group and Professor Michael Spagat, Head of Economics Department at Royal Holloway, University of London supported the presentation of the HCL and Nataša Kandić.

Dr. Patrick Ball made an important statement concerning documentations and methods used to collect or find data after warlike events.

The documentation based on compiling information – my method – from existing sources, i.e. the use of, for example, data collected by international organizations versus HLC’s method of documenting statements made by witnesses and victims’ family members, is normally regarded as equally reliable statistically.


Before going into detail concerning this comparison, I think it is worth mentioning that when I first came to Belgrade in October 2013 I visited HLC and Nataša Kandić and presented my two books and the documentary film.

After the presentation and handing over my two books and the DVD as a gift, I suggested that we could meet again and find ways to cooperate since both HLC and I were looking for the truth about the events in Kosovo. I was told to make contact the following week, but HLC did not respond to my approach later on.

Now over to the table that shows the comparison in detail:

See fig. 1and 2


The four left side columns present the analysis of HLC’s documentation and the two columns on the right, with the text in green, present the findings of the four other documentarists. It is obvious that the documentations of the latter have 3.190 more names of victims than the KMB.

The left one of the two columns shows the following sources:

  1. Jusuf Osmani, his documentation is called

Serbian crimes in Kosovo 1998-99”.

Jusuf Osmani is a former director for the entity called “Archives Kosovo”. I do not know much detail concerning his documentation and his sources.

  1. LDK is the abbreviation for the political party “Democratic League of Kosovo”. I do not know anything concerning their documentation and their sources.

  2. Josef Martinsen, author of “Kosovo: The wells of Death”, “What Happened in Kosovo 1998-99 – A Documentation”.

Initiator and contributor to the documentary film “The Process after a War” by Evald Otterstad, Aminda Productions, Norway.

  1. KMDLNJ is the abbreviation for the “Council for the Defense of Human Rights and Freedoms, Kosovo”. This organization has branches all over Kosovo and should thus be in position to know the most about civilian victims of the war and other things that occurred during 1998-99.

The right table shows a detailed list with the exact number of people, but without names. These people do not appear in the Kosovo Memory Book Database:

  1. 488 people found alive – no doc. of names

  2. 151 people found having a natural death – no doc, of names

  3. 184 people found having death not related to war – no doc. of names

  4. 715 people unknown – no doc of names

  5. 581 war victim – no doc of names

  6. 1.071 people being checked – no doc of names

Total: 3.190

What strikes me the most when I see this particular list is the lack of names, especially when I compare how accurate or precise the HLC usually is when they publish documents of their findings or their statements.

This time the HLC has failed to document the verifiable personal data of civilian victims mentioned by the other documentarists, even though they publicly claim that they are inaccurate.

This publication was published without prior consultation with the other documentarians, myself included.

In the present difficult state of affairs between Serbia and Kosovo all parties involved should do their best to find the truth and present it in an open and friendly atmosphere – we need transparency, not hidden agendas.

I myself made a request to HLC-Kosovo and asked for the names of those 3.190 persons presumably wrongly listed. I wanted to correct my documentation if any mistakes appeared in it.

However, they could not come up with a list of names.

After some exchanged e-mails, I received the names of 9 persons. Five of these people were still alive and 4 names were double listed or wrongly spelled. My documentation contains 10.592 names collected from international sources.

If these 9 names are all that is related to my documentation, I question the way the HLC has handled this case. Was the purpose to enlighten the public or was it to put a bad spotlight on the documentation of other people or groups?

Let’s look into the numbers of victims that HLC documented and how they present the numbers of victims.

The Kosovo Memory Book contains the names of 14.263 persons – a mixture of civilian, police, special police, and military, paramilitary and civilian militia victims of Serbian, Albanian and Roma ancestry.

In the lower part of the picture, I have included a handwritten calculation that reflects the text and numbers in the upper part of the picture.

In my opinion, this mixture of war victims conceal the fact that at least 9.002 innocent Kosovo Albanian children, women and  men were deliberately murdered in the period between 1 January 1998 and 20 June 1999, whose bodies were found in 400 mass graves.


The special structure of the presentation strikes me when I study it closely because approximately 82% of the civilian victims, 9.002 persons listed as war victims are actually war crime victims, i.e. civilian Albanian children, women and men found in around 400 mass graves all over Kosovo and Serbia.

Of the 1.436 (13%) listed Serbian civilians, I would guess, approximately 700 are civilian combatants (police, special police, paramilitary, civilian militia). The facts around this issue will be up the historians to find.

Of the 3.097 listed military war victims (Serbians, Roma and Albanians) 2.059 are Albanians.

This mix of victims draws a veil over the fact that the vast majority of the victims are war crime fatalities and should be presented as such. This significant fact shouldn’t be camouflaged. I would advise the Humanitarian Law Centre to change their presentation and to present war crime victims as a separate group, a distinction that these victims, in my opinion, deserve.

My personal thoughts at the end of this lecture

Let there be no doubt about the fact that the murdering of more than 9.000 innocent civilian Albanians during 1998-99 and the ruthless expulsion of more than half of the Albanian population in the winter and spring of 1998-99 did happen and I cannot find any justification for these actions. The time has come for recognition and acknowledgement.

Josef Martinsen

Questions and Answers

Predrag Miletić: “If it’s easier for you I can do it in English.”

Josef Martinsen: “Yes, of course. Can you say your name?”

Predrag Miletić: “Yes, of course. My name is Predrag Miletić and I come from the HLC. I came especialy to your presentation, and I was also on your presentation last year.

I must not say, but I highly admire your work and all that you are doing and your passion for all that you are doing here in Balkans. As you said, this is your second home.

I would like to say something regarding your remarks on HLC and the last years presentations and everything you said. First of all, Kosovo Memory Book is now available, the list is available on our website.

Our only intention with all the other names of four other documentarists that you mentioned was to compare our list with other four lists. We didn’t have any bad intentions.

We just wanted to check if we slipped any name. All the names that are not in the Kosovo Memory Book are the names that we still didn’t check.

We didn’t publish all the names of those 3190 persons that you were mentioning that we put in other register because there is always possibility that some of these names could appear as a war victim, because our research is still ongoing. We are supported for another two years for this research, and we are now doing the checking of all the names that we aren’t sure. There is one observation about what happened in KMB. I think that is a great book and a great effort to make the list of all the names of the victims in Kosovo.

But there are some categories of victims that were listed as closed because there was no available information on this person’s status, or they were closed for some other reason (found alive, etc.). We didn’t close any case as “not victim” before we tried to research and check it in the field. All the four documentarists you’ve mentioned didn’t have possibility to check every name you were publishing. You just made a compilation but we have researchers in the field and we are trying to check every name and to determine the person’s status. There is also the problem of methodology. All the four methodologies of all the four sources are different, your methodology and our methodology, that’s the reason why there are some differences between our four lists.

I must say again that from book that you have compiled “What happened in Kosovo?” we succeeded to confirm around 10 or 15 names that we didn’t have before.

Without your book and without the list you’ve compiled we might never succeed in collecting all those names. Even if there was only one name that we succeeded to confirm upon your book it’s a big success for all.

It’s just the way our project was going. We also started from the zero. We had some documentation from before, but also trying to collect from as many sources as we could, as you saw on the last years presentation.

I must also say just one more thing and I will finish. There is another guy from Norway, his name is Kristian Kahrs and he is very malicious.

I have to say that he was very malicious in his attempts to say that your book was a falsification and I think it is very bad what he was saying. We do not agree with him.

His text on your work was for me very, very bad and I don’t agree with his observations of your book because you say in one part of your book that you have a date of killing or the date of exhumation, if the date of killing was not available. If he read that, he would know that, but he didn’t read obviously. He was trying to say that you have more names in year 2000, but those were exhumations not killings.

We don’t stand on his observations and I regret on his texts on your work and I highly admire what you are doing. It was just a comment, not a question but thank you once again.”

Josef Martinsen: “Thank you for your remarks. I will first say that I regard the work that Natasa Kandic had done during twenty years as very highly.

She has done a remarkable job in finding out what’s happened during all the four wars in the Balkans, the last one she took on was Kosovo.

So, I have no hard feelings for Natasa Kandic. The only thing we reacted on and that was used by people who didn’t like my work and maybe not your work either,

They used this as an excuse to say that we falsificate names. It is good that you mentioned that. We will have it in mind.

But I must say that still I don’t understand why you put up those four other documentarists and you named those 3190. People had to assume that there was something mysterious or something wrong here, maybe they try to falsificate things. So you see, that is the reason why I reacted as I did.

Ok, other questions? If not, you can have coffee and you can look at the things that I have laid out there, There is a copy of my lecture in English and Serbian, so if you want it you can take a copy.

Thank you so much for your attention.”