• Human Rights

Hadum Mosque Complex

This research was undertaken in the frame of Forensic Architecture - a European Research Council project, and together with its London based team.

In March 1999, several buildings in Djakovica, a former Yugoslavian town near the border of Albania, were reported damaged or destroyed, among which was the historic Hadum Mosque complex, dating from the 16th century. Several reports have circulated that NATO airstrikes in the region were responsible for the damage to the historic mosque, however; site analysis suggests no aerial damage had taken place, implicating Serbian paramilitary forces in the Mosque's destruction.

Collaborators

  • András Riedlmayer
    Paulo Tavares

Visualization of the spatial context for the Hadum Mosque report.

Immediately following the end of the Kosovo War in 1999, the Serbian government asserted NATO's responsibility for the destruction of non-military facilities, including the historic Hadum Mosque complex, dating from the 16th century. These claims directly challenge media accounts and refugee testimonies that recall Islamic religious buildings being intentionally destroyed by Serbian forces. Assuming that the narrative of its destruction was written into the artifacts of its demise, Situ studied and modeled the circumstances surrounding the event as well as the remains of the Mosque itself. 

Digital rendering of Hadum Mosque Complex.

After the war, the controversy around who destroyed the Hadum Mosque shifted from the battlefield to the ICTY (International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia). The Hadum Mosque case was used as prosecution evidence in the Hague trials of Slobodan Milosevic and his successor, Milan Milutinovic, who claimed that the site destruction was caused by collateral effects of NATO bombings aimed at a nearby Serbian position. On the other hand, the prosecution sought to demonstrate that the Hadum Mosque was hit by an armed unit of the Serbian interior ministry, illegally firing shells at the Mosque from an adjacent hilltop. Below are bombing sites released by NATO and the Hadum Mosque in relation to the nearest one of these sites. The largest bomb NATO used in this scenario, the Mk84, is reported to cause severe damage within 180ft of the blast, and minimal damage within 600ft. The Hadum Mosque was located approximately 6,700 ft. from the nearest bombing location, as seen below.

 

 

Left: Released NATO bombing sites. Right: Closest bombing site (highlighted dot) to Hadum Mosque (highlighted area). 

András Riedlmayer, an expert on Islamic Art and Architecture and speaking as the expert witness about the mosque, was cross examined by Slobodan Milosevic in The Hague during April 2002. The conversation between Milosevic, who represented himself, and Riedlmayer, on the witness stand, revolved around the question of whether the building was destroyed by a stray NATO bomb or by Serbian paramilitaries.  

 

Testimony of Slobodan Milosevic during Hague investigation.

By using the mosque as a sort of material witness in the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, it was demonstrated that architecture can take on an important role in the legal and public claims during and after a conflict.

Click through full report below.