Bloody Harvest: 1999 Massacre of Kosovo Serbs Remains Unpunished
The annual wheat harvest season is most difficult time of the year for Slavica Popovic.
Wherever she goes during these days, she cannot help but remember the murders of four close relatives who were killed while they were out in the field harvesting their wheat.
In the night between July 23 and 24, 1999, she was woken up by the ringing of her phone. On the line was her uncle, telling that her father Momcilo, her 17-year-old brother Novica and two of her uncles had been killed.
They were among 14 Serbs killed in the village of Gracka e Vjeter/Staro Gracko, 20 kilometres from Kosovo's capital Pristina, while out in a field harvesting their wheat, just weeks after the Kosovo war was officially over and the country came under United Nations and NATO control in June 1999.
Popovic remembers how she asked her uncle again if her brother Novica was in the field, not wanting to believe he had been killed. Her uncle answered: "Yes."
"It had been three months since I had seen them. I was living here in Gracanica with my husband and children and we couldn't move. They were at home in Staro Gracko. The war had ended and we hoped we could [still] live here [in Kosovo]," Popovic told BIRN in her office at the Gracanica municipality building, where she works on the administrative staff.
Alongside her father Momcilo Janicijevic, brother Novica and two uncles, Slobodan Janicijevic and Momir Janicijevic, her neighbours Milovan Jovanovic, Jovica Zivic, Radovan Zivic, Andrija Odalovic, Stanimir Dekic, Bozidar Dekic, Sasa Cvejic, Ljubisa Cvejic, Nikola Stojanovic and Miodrag Tepsic were also shot dead in the massacre.
They were executed within earshot of British NATO peacekeeping troops in what was one of the cruellest attacks on Kosovo Serb...