January 18, 1999 – Another day where innocents are caught in the middle and factions are settling old scores. This time it was the town of Recuk in Kosovo where unarmed ethnic Albanians were rounded up and being gunned down by Serb militia touched off a renewal in violence. The incident which took place only days before, and it sparked outrage sending the Chief Prosecutor for the International War Crimes Tribunal to the village in order to inspect evidence of the massacre. As of this day, Belgrade had refused to allow investigators into the province. International Monitors reported that some 200 Special Police troops fanned out across the ridge overlooking the village of Recuk and that automatic gunfire was continuing throughout the day, along with what sounded like heavy weaponry. The Police were being supported by tanks from the Yugoslav army. A madness with seemingly no end and innocents forever stuck in the middle.
Meanwhile, a panel of Judges in the House Of Lords in the UK reopened deliberation on whether the former Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet was immune from extradition. The former leader was wanted in Spain to face charges of torture and murder during his seventeen years in power. An unprecedented second hearing was to take place in order to decide the fate of Pinochet, currently under house arrest outside London. The first time the case came before the House of Lords the General was denied immunity and the extradition case was due to proceed. But one of the peers, Lord Hoffmann was found to have links to the Human Rights group Amnesty International, and the ruling was set aside and a fresh panel of Law Lords was selected for another panel hearing. Both Amnesty International and representatives of the Chilean Government felt that Pinochet should be extradited, but only to face trial in his own country.
And United Nations Secretary General Kofi Anan called for an end to the UN Peacekeeping mission in Angola. He said the peace process had collapse and the country was now in a state of war. The UN blamed both the UNITA rebels and the Angolan government which had itself called for the International force to leave.
All this and much-much more via a half-hour slice of the one-hour BBC World Service Program Newshour for January 18, 1999