Indictments in Bytyqi brothers case

Special War Crimes Prosecution announced it has issued indictments in the case of the murder of the Bytyqi brothers.

Source: B92, Beta

Sreten Popović and Miloš Stojanović, former special police members, are charged with taking part in the July 1999 murder of US citizens Illy, Mehmet and Agron Bytyqi, members of the KLA’s Atlantic Brigade.

The Bytyqi brothers served a two-week prison sentence in Prokuplje at the end of June and the beginning of July 1999, for entering what was then Yugoslavia illegally from Albania. After they were released from prison, Popović and Stojanović handed them over to unidentified masked MUP members, who executed them next to a garbage disposal site, the indictment claims. “The bodies of the Bytyqi brothers, with hands tied with wire, were found in 2001, in the Petrovo Selo mass grave. The case remains under investigation”, the statement reads.

The prosecution has cooperated with the FBI during the two-year investigation.

The Bytyqi case investigation has brought the name of the former police general Vlastimir Đorđević into the media focus.

Special war crimes court Prosecution spokesman Bruno Vekarić confirmed that a warrant for his arrest will likely be issued. “I wish to stress his name is also on a Hague indictment. There are indications that he is hiding in Russia. It would be very important for us to have him appear before out courts but, as you know, the Hague tribunal takes precedence. Formally, a warrant is issued by the police on a judge’s order, and that is in procedure. I really cannot anticipate the reaction of the Russian authorities once the warrant is issued”.

The media have also mentioned the then Special anti-terrorist unit (SAJ) commander Goran Radosavljević Guri in connection with the case. Bruno Vekarić for his part said that the Prosecution will not comment on media reports.

Nataša Kandić of the Humanitarian Law Center, engaged in the case for a long time, told B92 that the indictment came as a result of the pressure from the State Department, the US War Crimes envoy and the FBI.

However, she stressed that the indictment relates only to the direct perpetrators, instead to those who gave the orders, and who have in the meantime fled the country. “The witnesses who would be wiling to confirm that Vlastimir Đorđević, in cooperation with someone else, made a political decision, which was then executed, do not exist. It defies the logic that it could’ve been realized without Goran Radosavljević Guri’s involvement, who’s HQ stood near the place where the Bytyqi brothers were killed. This is where the investigation hits a dead-end, you can’t go any further, because there is a conspiracy of silence related to the high MUP officials and those who served in the special units deployed in Kosovo. Contrary to the interests of the country and the rule of law, we continue to protect the high-ranking criminals, punishing only the direct executioners”.

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