Trial of Police Officers for Crimes Committed in Kosovo Unjustifiably Long

The Humanitarian Law Center believes that the Niš District Court, which is conducting the trial of Miloš Simonović, an active police officer, and Dragiša Marković, a former reserve officer in the Serbian Ministry of Interior, for the criminal offence of murder of an Albanian [during the armed conflict in Kosovo – added by HLC] is being unnecessarily stalled, thus preventing justice from being served.

Even though the court is obliged to truly and entirely establish the facts relevant for rendering judgement, in this case it transferred the entire burden of proof to the injured party. Besides this, the court has avoided issuing an arrest warrant or detention order against the accused [who are on provisional release], in order to secure their presence in the court. The unjustifiable stalling of this trial causes unnecessary suffering for the victim, who lost her husband and personally experienced a life threatening situation.

According to the indictment, the accused killed Isa Emini from Prishtinë/Priština on 5 May 1999. They entered his apartment, dragged his wife into another room and tied her hands and covered her mouth with a scarf, and they fired two bullets in the left side of his head.

The proceedings before the Niš District Court were initiated on 14 September 2004, five years after the crime was committed. During the fist instance proceedings, the main hearings were cancelled on several occasions because the defendants did not appear in court. Due to long pauses in the proceedings, the trial had to start from the beginning on two occasions and all pieces of evidence had to be adduced again.

The first instance trial was completed eight years after Isa Emini was killed and it resulted in an acquittal that was rendered and publicly announced on 15 June 2007. After the first instance judgement was reversed on 30 June 2008 and the case returned for retrial, the main hearing was scheduled on two occasions, for 25 November 2008 and for 25 December 2008. However, it was cancelled both times because the accused failed to appear in court.

The Humanitarian Law Center would like to remind the public that the same problems appear in the trial of two members of the Serbian Ministry of Interior conducted before the Požarevac District Court for the murder of three Albanian civilians [qualified as a war crime]. The defendants are on provisional release; they avoid subpoenas, and they usually do not appear in court. This trial, which is being conducted for the second time before the same trial chamber, has lasted eight years, without the participation of injured parties and their representatives. HLC demands that the presence of the accused police officers be secured and that the court encourage witnesses from the police ranks and injured parties to participate in it by the unbiased and professional adjudication of the trial.