The mass grave is located in the municipality of Vushtrri/Vucitrn, in the north of the central part of Kosovo, which became a target for an offensive by Serbian forces from the beginning in March 1999 of the NATO air campaign aimed at ending the killings and expulsions of Kosovo Albanians by the Yugoslav regime.
The town of Vushtrri/Vucitrn was shelled the day NATO bombing began and thousands of ethnic Albanian residents were expelled in the first week of the air campaign. Buses were organised to send residents to North Macedonia on several occasions, according to campaign group Human Rights Watch.
While attempting to leave the area with their tractors, a column of around 1,000 ethnic Albanian civilians was stopped on May 2, 1999 by Serbian forces in the village of Studime e Eperme/Gornje Sudimlje, some 35 kilometres north of the capital Pristina.
“They stopped us, and told us to get out of our tractors, and put our hands behind our heads, and then to sit down on the road. The soldiers started cursing us, and walked among us, kicking and beating some of us. One woman was beaten just because her child was crying,” a witness told Human Rights Watch.
Other witnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch said that men were executed in front of their eyes. Soldiers and paramilitaries walked up and down the tractor convoy, harassing, robbing and sometimes executing the fleeing ethnic Albanians, witnesses said.
Several witnesses reported that they saw many dead bodies along the road to Vushtrri/Vucitrn, but the exact number of people from the convoy who were executed is unknown. Four separate witnesses claimed to have seen 25, 30, 70, and “over 100” dead bodies.
Forensic teams from the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, ICTY discovered 98 bodies in Studime e Eperme/Gornja Sudimlja.
The area where the bodies were initially left remains unmarked because it is by the road in the central part of the village. The bodies were later reburied at the village cemetery, where a monument has been installed to commemorate the victims as well as Kosovo Liberation Army officers from the area.
The Studime e Eperme/ Gornje Sudimlje massacre formed part of the indictment of Yugoslav Army General Vlastimir Djordjevic, who was sentenced to 27 years in prison by the ICTY.
In 2022, Pristina Basic Court also found former Serb policeman Zoran Vukotic guilty of committing rape and participating in the expulsions of ethnic Albanian civilians from the town of Vushtrri/Vucitrn during the war in May 1999.