Sunday, November 06, 2005

"But he was such a gooood Christian boy...."

Well, it's been a long time since I've posted anything here on the ol' blog, eh? Almost two months, by my reckoning. Part of it has been that I've been pretty busy with the "everyday" stuff of life. Part of it too is that I'm not sure if there's anybody out there reading this damned thing, either! :( Blogger seems to give you no way of knowing for sure if anybody's reading you, other than comments that might get posted. And so far, all but one of the comments I've received has been "spam". But I'll keep posting, in the hopes that I can eventually build up a readership here, and make the time I put in on it worthwhile.

Now, as to the title of this posting. Y'know, there's not much that'll rile me up faster than some idiot (usually right-wing, although there are some "lefties" who play this card too) who insists that the Kosova conflict is a battle between "Christian Serbs" and "Muslim Albanians". Now never mind the fact that every piece of objective evidence out there says this is nonsense, and that religion per se plays next to no real part in the actual animosity between Albanians and Serbs (except when Serbian National(social)ists try to gain the sympathy of "useful idiots"). Never mind that, contrary to what various anti-albanian propaganda sources say, Albanians have been in what is today Kosova and even parts of Serbia proper since long before the first Serb mercernary trudged his muddy boots into old Dardania in the 6th century. Never mind that there have been times of peace and times of conflict between Albanians and their Serb neighbors since long before the battle of Kosovo Polije. Because IMO, there's an even bigger question in all this: Just how "Christian" are those Serbs acting, the ones who see themselves as defending "Christendom", and "Europe". And that's where I'm coming from in this post, folks. Not as an adopted member of the Albanian community, but as a Christian.

Now, I have been following Balkan history (*real* Balkan history, not the crap-ass propaganda foisted off as history at the end of WWI by all sorts of folks in the "allied" countries who got caught up in "Serb-O-Mania" (no relation to Beatlemania, but an incredible simulation!) ), and it seems to me that those "oh-so-brave" self-proclaimed defenders of Christendom (who were doing a pretty lousy job of it, if their record of engagements against the Ottoman Turks is anything to go by-and still are) haven't exactly engaged in what *I'd* call the most Christian of behaviors-or at least not if the words of Jesus count for anything (but then again, the Serbian Orthodox Church seems so mystically-oriented that it appears to care little for mundane realities like actually *following* Jesus' teachings).

A good example of one of these latter day Christian knights is a man (he may be dead now) known by his nom-de-guerre as "Mrtvi". That name, BTW, means "death" in Serbian. Now, Mrtvi was profiled in a news story shortly after the Kosova crisis ended. There he proudly, yet also detachedly, chronicled his exploits in the name of "Greater Serbia". Things like looting, killing innocent people simply because they were the "wrong" ethnicity (always a good and noble reason to murder someone, right?), and so forth. And he did so believing God was on his side (how many times have we seen *that* before, folks?). Well, much to my surprise there was recently a follow-up article on Mrtvi. Seems the "poor" fellow moved to Argentina (former home of Adolph Eichmann-how "poetic"), and recently died of AIDS complications. However, despite having fled like a coward from the Balkans to the same place favored by Nazifascists everywhere as a hideout, and married twice to two Latin women, seems like Mrtvi reached the end of his line, and in rather ignominous fashion. The justice humanity could not meet out on him, nature and his flagrant violation of it's laws did.

But my point is, folks, that if you read Mrtvi's deeds, and then read the words of Jesus, St. Paul, and even the early Church Fathers (both east and west), you find a sort of discrepancy about things like actions that please God, proper Christian behavior, and so forth. Now I'm no saint here-not by a long shot. But I also know what's right, and what's wrong for the most part. And when I read about the exploits of a S.O.B. like this, and that he did what he did in the name of Jesus, it makes me almost ashamed to wear the label "Christian". I say "almost", because I know that Mrtvi's actions are in no way, shape, form, or fashion Christian. But they do cast a black pall on the Christian faith, because they are done in it's name. And that's where I feel the shame. So the next time you read about the Kosova crisis being about "Christian Serbs" vs. "Muslim Albanians", take a good look at the acts of those oh-so-Christian Chetnik bands, at the devistation they wrecked not only in Kosova, but also Bosnia, and Croatia. And not only today, but during WWII, WWI, and both Balkan Wars. Read something like "Albanian Golgotha". (It's available online, but I don't remember the URL right now. I'll post it later.) And see just how "Christian" the behavior is of these men supposedly defending "Christendom". As Jesus himself said, "By their fruits you shall know them."

Now, here's the articles about our "friend" Mrtvi:

From Daily Telegraph (UK), Sunday 29 June, 1999

My name is Death...'
By Philip Sherwell in Pec


[ ]
[Image] 60,000 held in 'concentration camps'

THE Serbian retreat from Pec was already underway,
Italian peacekeeping troops were en route from
Macedonia. At last, the Bala family thought, their
ordeal was finally over. They had survived 80 days
behind the shutters of their home while Slobodan
Milosevic's forces terrorised the city known as the
"Serb Jerusalem".

They were terribly wrong. For Isa Bala, the true horror
began only after the Yugoslav president agreed to pull
his men out of Kosovo. Last Saturday night his home
became a bloodbath: seven members of his family were
shot within its walls.

A band of Serbian paramilitaries led by a local thug who
revelled in the nickname "Mrtvi" (Death) went on a final
rampage of killing, raping and looting in Pec just hours
before the arrival of Nato troops. Nebojsa Minic, the
man who calls himself Mrtvi, is a heavily-tattooed,
shaven-headed man with a long criminal record. Before
the war, he ran a local band - the Black-Hand Gang -
that specialised in protection rackets in Pec.

The city has a special place in Serbian culture: its
monasteries are the cradle of the Serbian Orthodox
Church. For nationalist fanatics such as Minic, that was
the excuse to pursue a warped vision of ethnic purity
with a vengeance extreme even by the recent standards of

Before the war, there were 80,000 Albanians in the city.
The few hundred Albanians who now remain cannot explain
why they were not also forced to flee. The Balas were
among those left behind.

Isa and his brother Musa ran a butcher's shop together
before the conflict. They stayed in Pec with their wives
and children because their crippled mother was too sick
to join the exodus. They had prayed that they would
survive unscathed and, as they prepared for bed last
Saturday, they were convinced their prayers had been
answered. Then, at 9pm, came a barrage of thuds at the

Isa - a gentle bear of a man aged 40 - describes how
three men wearing camouflage fatigues and carrying
automatic weapons forced their way into his house. They
rounded up his wife Halise, 38; three of their sons,
aged six, 11 and 12; Musa, 31; his wife Violloca, 28,
and their three young children. Isa's invalid mother was
in another room and, unknown to the intruders, his other
son, eight-year-old Veton, was cowering behind a couch.

First, the men demanded money and Isa gave them 300
Deutschmarks (about £100). Then they led away Violloca
to an empty room for a few minutes. When she came back,
she was adjusting her clothes but insisted they had only
seized her jewellery. Isa's mother, however, was lying
in the room next door and knew the truth: Violloca had
[ ]been raped.

Finally two of the paramilitaries marched Isa and Musa
off to the house of an elderly neighbour where their
leader was waiting. There, Minic told Isa: "We are the
men with no names. I am 'Mrtvi'. We're probably going to
die ourselves, but first we are going to have our fun."

Minic told Isa he would kill his family unless he handed
over more money. Isa agreed and was taken back to his
house. His brother Musa was kept behind (his body was
found three days ago). Isa handed over his life savings
of 5,000DM (£1,700), but even that was not enough. The
gang sprayed the room with gunfire, killing Isa's three
sons, his sister-in-law Violloca and a niece. Another
niece later bled to death.

Isa himself jumped to safety from a first floor balcony
clutching his four-year-old nephew Roni, while the
gunmen left Halise for dead after shooting her three
times. Somehow, she survived and is recovering in

Last week the photographer Julian Simmonds and I became
the first British journalists to witness the devastating
impact of ethnic cleansing in the Pec area after walking
with the KLA for four days to the city through ravaged
western Kosovo. Our route had taken us past a string of
flattened villages. Untended cherry orchards stood next
to charred homes; the sweet smell of lavender would be
abruptly overwhelmed by the stench of rotting carcasses
as we passed horses and cows shot by Serbs.

In the village of Little Jablanica, there was just one
house intact in a village of 200 buildings. Even the
school had been burned down. In neighbouring Kaliqan, an
old Albanian man was living among the rubble. "I don't
have anything, I don't know anything," he repeated over
and over.

And at nearby Rohut, seven miles east of Pec, there was
another chilling reminder of the Serbian killing spree:
the remains of 10 Albanian victims of death squads. Two
of the corpses were identified by locals as cousins
Beqir and Dem Osmanaj. They had been garrotted with car
jump leads: the wires were still wrapped around the neck
of Beqir.

The others were unidentifiable - they were little more
than incinerated skeletons recovered from makeshift
pyres on top of haystacks around the village. But from
the size of the bones, at least two of them appeared to
be children aged under 10. It was just one more horrific
discovery as the fields of Kosovo yielded their secrets:
proof of the bloodlust that gripped Milosevic's forces
as they swept through the villages around the Serb

And the follow up:

From Newsday

Suspect unapologetic to end

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

Published October 21, 2005

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 were still
"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
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 yesterday morning, less than 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
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 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 yesterday .,1

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, 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 yesterday 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
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, where the Mountains of the Damned tower over the
"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 and beyond detested. "We'll throw him among the mountains like he

Special correspondent Enver Doda contributed from Pec.

Copyright C 2005, Newsday, Inc.

Fleeing past, meeting his death

Wanted for Kosovo war crimes, he ended up in Argentina. But he couldn't
escape AIDS and cancer.

By Colin McMahon
Tribune foreign correspondent
Published October 23, 2005

MENDOZA, Argentina -- Nebojsa Minic looked pitiable on his deathbed,
shriveled beyond recognition, eyes rolling in his head, a misshapen
mouth struggling to utter the simplest of words.
But pity often eludes those who fail to show it themselves. And
according to the survivors of ethnic Albanian families massacred by Serb
militias in Kosovo, Minic never showed humanity, much less pity. If
Nebojsa Minic, commander of the notorious Lightning paramilitary group,
was rotting on the other side of the world, he would get no sympathy
from the Albanian town of Pec.
"Home," Minic said repeatedly in a tense interview Tuesday night, 36
hours before he died. It was one of the few words besides "yes" or "no"
that Minic could say clearly, and he kept coming back to it like a
But it was not Pec he meant by home; it was his apartment in the
western Argentine city of Mendoza.
Kosovo? "No," Minic said. He did not want to go there.
Minic's run from his blood-soaked past began in 1999 after the men
of Lightning were accused of dozens of rapes, robberies and murders of
Albanian Muslims in Kosovo. It ended Thursday in a cramped public
hospital in Mendoza, on a plastic mattress with soiled linen, when
Minic, 41, stopped breathing and freed the hand of his devoted Argentine
In between those bookends of death, Minic stumbled through a
half-dozen countries, through moneymaking schemes that sometimes worked
and sometimes didn't. The odyssey bought Minic time, but it never
brought him peace.
Minic could not escape a Mendoza state police investigator. He could
not escape a jilted lover who gave Minic a roof, food and money only to
be repaid with intimidation. He could not escape cancer and AIDS.
Nor could he escape the horrors of Kosovo or the nickname he adopted
there: "Mrtvi," the Serbian word for "dead."
"He seems tremendously sad," Minic's attorney, Alejandra Ruiz, said
the day before he died. "He cannot imagine a life without war. . . . The
thing is: He could have led a normal life here, and now he's dying."
Minic's "normal" life in Mendoza was a mess of irregularities. He
told people he was rich but often had no pocket money. He opened a
pizzeria called La Bomba without a proper permit. He came into Argentina
on a false passport, was arrested for using a second false passport and
then freed and allowed to stay in Mendoza using his first false
Friends, lovers and even Minic's guards at the hospital called him
"Vlada" until the day he died. But the real Vlada Radivojevic, whose
identity Minic had assumed, was somewhere in Europe, according to a
police trace of passport and immigration records.
"I was shocked when I saw the files," said Omar Perez Botti,
Mendoza's top police investigator when authorities were tipped about
Minic's true identity in March 2005.

Ghastly crimes

The crimes Minic was accused of ordering or participating in were
ghastly. Munja, or Lightning, was a loose grouping of police, thugs and
self-proclaimed Serb patriots who engaged in violent "ethnic cleansing"
of Albanians from Pec and other Kosovo communities.
Testimony collected by human-rights activists and Serbian
prosecutors accuses Minic of joining a Serb paramilitary raid on the
village of Cuska in which 41 ethnic Albanians were executed. Minic was
also accused of ordering the rape, torture and murder of members of the
Bala family in Pec.
In the interview Tuesday night, Minic responded to a series of
questions with "yes" or "no." Occasionally he forced out a clear word or
a phrase, fighting the paralysis that had spread through most of his
body. His lack of teeth made it worse--Minic had yanked several out
himself when they rotted in his mouth.
Minic's girlfriend, Anahi Escobedo, manipulated Minic's mouth to
help him articulate. She stroked his head, which lacked the long black
and gray hair that had given him a bohemian look a few months before,
and held cigarettes up to his mouth.
Minic held the gaze of his questioners, and there was plenty of fire
left in the blue eyes that had so unnerved and intimidated Lightning's
victims. He acknowledged knowing other members of Lightning. But he
reacted with disdain when confronted with the accusations and when told
that many people in Kosovo hated him.
"No," Minic said, giving his head a slight shake, he did not kill
innocent civilians.,1,618

"No," the war was not about religion.
"Yes," God still loved him.
"No," he did not regret anything he had done.
"I am not a criminal," Minic said. "I am a soldier."
Minic's definition of soldier is as loose as his definition of war.
Anything went in war, he told friends, lovers and people he merely ran
into through his travels. There could be no such thing as a war crime,
Minic said. And if you were not there, if you did not see the fallen
comrades and the civilians tortured by the other side, then you cannot
know what war is, nor can you judge.
"He would say he was the kind of person who leads," said Iris
Palomares, a 52-year-old science professor in Mendoza who thought that
she and Minic were in love but now believes he was just using her.
"He said, `Some people could say I was a criminal, but others would
say I was a leader who defended my country.'"
Palomares and others said Minic spent hours talking about his life,
especially about the Kosovo war. At times he would say he was a "very
bad person."
Then one night, during a typical conversation in the kitchen, Minic
told Palomares and her son that he was on the Internet. He spoke his
real name, even wrote it down, and suggested she look for him on the
Web. She and her son tried, she said, with Minic by their side. But
maybe because the connection was poor, nothing came up. Minic appeared
"I never have understood why he told me that story. He did not tell
me the details. He just gave me the name and told me it was a nom de
guerre," Palomares said. "Maybe he wanted me to turn him in."
Whatever Minic's motive, writing down his real name led to his
After Minic and Palomares had a falling out, things turned ugly.
There were disputes over money, with Palomares estimating she loaned
Minic thousands of dollars to get travel documents and start his
business ventures. Minic accused Palomares of stalking him. He even went
to the police for a restraining order.
Then one day, angry and suspicious, Palomares found the name
scribbled among some papers. She went to an Internet cafe and ran a full
search. The screen filled with hit after hit.
"I wanted to die," she said, futilely trying to hold back tears
during a 90-minute interview. "That I had a person like this with such a
past in my house with my children.
"He was always making you feel sorry for him and making you help
him," Palomares said. "I don't understand how I as a grown woman did not
see this."
Palomares went to the local police, and eventually her information
reached Perez Botti. In mid-May, Minic was arrested while being treated
at the hospital for lung cancer and AIDS.
Within weeks, Serbian war crimes prosecutors would request Minic's
extradition. That process was working its way through Argentine courts
when Minic died.

`Not the same man'

On the morning of Minic's death, Escobedo stood by the corpse and idly
rubbed Minic's ankle and calf. She had dressed him in jeans and a light
blue shirt. She had closed his eyes. And she had wrapped a bandage
around his head to keep his jaw closed. It gave Nebojsa Minic a
cartoonish look, like a corpse with a toothache.
"This man called Nebojsa, this is not the same man I know as Vlada,"
Escobedo said.
And she was right. The man lying there was a picture of impotence
and frailty. Minic had decayed from the inside out, and whatever fear,
rage and hate he had been hauling around were no longer dangerous or
frightening or volatile. It was still there, spent, stuck inside him.

Copyright C 2005, Chicago Tribune



Blogger sarawilliams20131799 said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:45 PM  
Blogger mattfrie83696658 said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:24 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home