Civilian victims

May 30, 2001 - Investigators in Yugoslavia increased the death count in a case that could prove former President Slobodan Milosevic did cover up war crimes. A truck found dumped in a river during the Kosovo war contained 86 bodies. Together with police accusations it could pave the way for Milosevic's extradition to The Hague.

The bodies of more than 4,000 ethnic Albanians were exhumed in Kosovo since Yugoslav troops were forced to leave the province following 1999 NATO air strikes. More than 3,000 ethnic Albanians remained missing.

April 1, 2001 - Former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic was arrested (See chronology).

January 26, 2001 - Information obtained by the US government beginning in 1999 confirmed there were massive killings by Milosevic's forces "and there were attempts to burn bodies and otherwise cover up evidence at places throughout Kosovo". Minnesota Public Radio and National Public Radio news reported up to 1,500 bodies were burned at a lead refinery in Trepca — near the city of Mitrovica. Earlier, the OSCE said investigators had found no evidence that would substantiate the report that elite forces loyal to Milosevic burned the bodies in a blast furnace at Trepca.

In 1999, senior French police officials in Kosovo said the furnace at Trepca stopped operating shortly after the start of the crackdown on Kosovo's ethnic Albanians in late March 1999 and remained unused after Milosevic's forces pulled out. Ashes at the site examined by the team also showed no traces that would back up the report, they said. In the American radio report, it was said bodies were unearthed from freshly dug graves that were identified by NATO satellites after the French study was done. The ICTY said it had no proof to backup the report.

The Red Cross office in Kosovo said 3,583 Kosovars, mainly ethnic Albanians, were still missing after the conflict.

October 11, 2000 - The American Association for the Advancement of Science issued a report documenting that approximately 10,500 Kosovar Albanians were killed from March to June 1999, and that the pattern of killings supports the argument that there was a coordinated effort targeting ethnic Albanians during the conflict in Kosovo.

Using statistical techniques, the report tried to address the number of ethnic Albanians killed in Kosovo and whether those fatalities were inadvertent casualties of the conflict between Serbian forces and the Kosovo Liberation Army, or the targets of a campaign of systematic ethnic cleansing.

June 27, 2000 - After a population-based study, researchers more accurately calculated that from 1998 to 1999 approximately 12,000 Albanian Kosovars were killed during the Kosovo conflict as a result of war-related trauma. The conclusion was that the figures indicated that 12,000 Kosovar Albanians died from war-related trauma out of a total of 18,800 overall deaths, while another 3,900 people were missing.

April 19, 1999 - Until the start of the air campaign against Yugoslavia — Operation Allied Force — on March 24, 1999, experts estimated that some 2,500 civilians in Kosovo were killed. US ambassador for the human rights, David J. Scheffer, called this a very low estimate and warned that tens of thousands of civilians in Kosovo may have been killed.

May 16, 1999 - US Minister of Defense, William Cohen, said on CBS that some ten thousand people could have been killed.

August 2, 1999 - UN administrator in Kosovo, Bernhard Kouchner, said some 11,000 bodies have been exhumed.

November 2, 1999 - The Sunday Times said the number of civilians killed during the war in Kosovo may be no more than 2,500. Spanish pathologist Emilio Perez Pujol was quoted, saying "I calculate that the final figure of dead in Kosovo will be 2,500 at the most. This includes lots of strange deaths that can’t be blamed on anyone in particular." He said the numbers of dead were far lower than the 44,000 he had been warned of, and few were in mass graves. Many experts did not agree with this low figure.

November 11, 1999 - UN investigators announced to have exhumed the bodies of 2,108 people killed in the conflict over the past five months – mostly ethnic Albanians. The UN war crimes tribunal said the Tribunal had information, indicating that some 11,334 people were buried in 529 common graves in Kosovo. Initially, the UN assumed 4,266 would be exhumed. Chief prosecutor Calro del Ponte warned that there was tempering at a great number of sites.

The Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad stated that according to a confidential report of the US State Department the number of dead was estimated at 8,000.

November 12, 1999 - NATO Secretary-General George Robertson said the exhumation so far of more than 2,000 bodies from Kosovo mass graves was more than enough to justify the bombing of Yugoslavia. With the start of winter, the exhumation of bodies was ceased.

December 9, 1999 - The United States estimated that Serbian forces killed about 10,000 Kosovo Albanians between March and June 1999 -- almost five times more than the number of bodies exhumed from mass graves. The figure is at the higher end of recent estimates, but was much lower than numbers circulated during the air war against Serbia.

January 12, 2000 - Top Yugoslav army general Vladimir Lazarevic claimed that NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia killed some 2,000 people, half of whom were children. Serb officials claimed before that more than 300 people died, but that number was also unconfirmed.

January 25, 2000 - David Gowan -- a British diplomat, appointed UK Kosovo War Crimes Coordinator to provide expert help to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia -- revealed that the British team investigated 70 sites, all in the southwest of Kosovo, and recovered 508 bodies. He made it clear that many bodies would never be found "because of natural degradation, lack of information about the whereabouts of graves and deliberate attempts by the Serb forces to hide evidence, for instance by burning bodies or dumping them in rivers."

Source: CNN, Reuters, Associated Press, NRC Handelsblad, Washington Post, SHAPE, de Volkskrant, The Independent, BBC News, RFE/RL, PR Newswire.