In the flesh, Saranda Bogujevci hardly looks like a victim. Slim and erect with big, dark eyes the Albanian-born, British-based student could almost be mistaken for a model. But the 18-year-old's voice is sombre like her expression and one of her arms looks strangely withered. That it is attached to her body at all borders on the miraculous. As has been recounted at a trial seen as a test case for Serb war criminals, her life went horrifically wrong on a chilly March day in 1999, four days after Nato began bombing Belgrade in response to its crackdown on Kosovo Albanians, which itself was triggered by attacks from Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) guerrillas in southern Serbia. Realising the risk to ethnic Albanian men because of the escalating police and military presence in their native Podujeve, a municipality near the Serbian border in northern Kosovo, the women and children in Saranda's extended family persuaded the two older male relatives, both fathers, to flee. Just hours after the men had escaped to the hills, a Serbian death squad materialised and herded the 19 remaining family members into a garden. Saranda says she has no idea why the killers singled out her family. Her helper, Pam Dawes, from the charity Manchester Aid to Kosovo - formed in 1999 in response to escalating ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, and which successfully campaigned for the surviving children's asylum - cuts in. She says the attack might have been connected to the fact Saranda's grandfather was a doctor, and also the high educated level of her family. Her mind a blank, Saranda just watched events unravel. Escape was out of the question: 'How could you run when you were right in the middle of this many people who were all armed?' she says. 'Even if you had done the smallest thing they would have shot you.' One of the militia men drew a knife and muttered something in Serbian but did not use this weapon. The squad, which, Saranda claims, 'looked happy', then opened fire with Kalashnikovs. Saranda closed her eyes. She was hit 13 times in the left arm, twice in the right leg and once in the back. She lost eight family members: her mother, aunt, grandmother, two younger brothers, cousin and two other relatives. Her four younger cousins, Fatos, now 17, Jehona, 15, Lirie, 13 and Genc, 10, also survived the hail of bullets (97 casings were found). Saranda kept her eyes closed, playing dead until, in response to a message received via walkie-talkie, the killers melted away. Spirited by unknown friendly Serbs to a hospital in Kosovo's capital Pristina, which had been commandeered by Serbs, she and the other children received scarcely any medical attention. In fact, Saranda says that the establishment resembled a prison more than a hospital. She remembers soldiers and nurses just wandering around not doing anything except occasionally shouting at patients. However, when the Milosevic regime agreed to withdraw its troops from Kosovo in June, the children - urgently needing muscle, bone and skin grafts - were rescued by a team of British doctors. Medical evacuation was arranged by KFOR (The Kosovo Force): the Nato-led international force responsible for establishing and maintaining security in Kosovo. The children were taken to Manchester for treatment by specialists and still live in the city with the two fathers. In July this year, Saranda, Fatos, Jehona and Lirie travelled to Belgrade to confront the chief suspect in the massacre, Sasa Cvjetan. The fifth child who witnessed the killings, Genc, went too but wound up not testifying because he was eventually deemed too vulnerable to participate further and flown home. The trial, which began in June 2002 and is set to conclude next month, is significant because it is the first in Serbia to address war crimes committed by Serbian forces in Kosovo. A tough cookie whom one pundit in the comment section of the BBC website likened to Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, Saranda explains: 'I wanted justice and I wanted the truth to come out, and also I wanted to go there and tell what happened, and to let them know that they can't kill someone and just walk away from that. Maybe they are not as powerful as they think they are,' she adds with a sneer. Whatever the outcome of the trial, the children's testimony seemed to constitute progress. After all, it marked the first time ethnic Albanians had appeared in a court in Serbia. Furthermore, it suggested that the Balkan state was starting to face the truth about the war, which lasted from February 1998 to June 1999 and resulted in at least 10,000 deaths, according to The Serbs: History, Myth And The Destruction Of Yugoslavia, written by Tim Judah. According to Ms Dawes, Cvjetan initially admitted his part in the massacre to police before retracting his confession and pleading not guilty. At an ID parade all four children positively identified the bull-necked, crew-cut former member of the Scorpions, which the Guardian describes as an infamous unit of the Serbian interior ministry formed in 1991 to carry out ethnic cleansing missions. Cvjetan's lawyer, Djordje Kalanj, later confirmed the children had indeed identified his client but claimed this could easily have resulted from the children seeing his photographs in a newspaper. Seeing Cvjetan, Saranda says, filled her with relief rather than anxiety because, behind bars, he could not harm anyone else. Saranda and her relatives then had to face him in court and give a statement to a panel of five judges: 'We went there for justice and to tell the truth, and I told all of them exactly what I saw so he would not be able to make any excuses,' she says. The next suspect in the survivors' crosshairs is former Serb policeman Dejan Demirovic who, like Cvjetan, initially admitted his role in the carnage to the authorities, then withdrew his confession, Ms Dawes says. In 2001, he moved to Canada, where he is claiming refugee status while contesting extradition proceedings and is being tried in absentia. Demirovic's lawyer, Dragi Zekavica, is quoted by Toronto's Globe and Mail newspaper as saying: 'He was involved in absolutely no activity or participated at all in the deaths of those persons.' Again, Saranda disagrees and she is heading for Toronto this month, this time alone, to try to encourage media interest in the case. While Genc and Fatos have made what Ms Dawes describes as 'a good recovery', Saranda still has to undergo weekly physiotherapy. Likewise, Jehona has to have weekly physiotherapy and hydrotherapy and Lirie will have plastic surgery, including reconstruction of her neck, when she is 'a little more mature'. The cousins are at a small Catholic secondary school in Greater Manchester, except for the youngest, who attends a local primary school. 'All the children are thriving at school, where they have received extremely sensitive and carefully planned support,' Ms Dawes says. Saranda says she tries to lead a normal life. That means nothing spectacular: visiting her cousins, hanging out with pals (no boyfriend yet) and sculpting as part of an art course she is taking at college. Dawes declines to reveal the name of the school for security reasons. Her main piece, Silent Screams, which she created for a school exam, is two metres tall and has been exhibited in Manchester and filmed by the BBC. It depicts a crouching figure at the moment of being shot. Dawes says that Saranda is a linguist as well as an artist and can speak Albanian, English and a smattering of German and Serbian. Another talent is public speaking. Composed and passionate, Saranda has spoken out at not only her school but also at churches in Manchester, the nearby Merseyside town of Wallesey and Taunton in south west England. She has also spoken to youth groups and gave international press conferences in Belgrade after testifying. She has told her story on British, Serbian and Kosovar television. Saranda's desire to exact retribution against the criminals who tried to wipe out her family appears to be her driving force. She says: 'I just want them to get what they deserve. I just want justice.'