Police Officers Charged With Murder of Kosovo Albanian Isa Emini Acquitted

According to the assessment of the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC), the trial and acquittal of Miloš Simonović and Republic of Serbia MoI Reserve Dragiša Marković for the murder of Isa Emini, an Albanian from Priština/Prishtin, rendered by the Court of Appeal in Niš on November 17th, 2011, raises serious doubts as to the declared willingness of the Judiciary of the Republic of Serbia to prosecute perpetrators of war crimes who are members of the Police.

The HLC believes that the Court of Appeal did not render a judgment that brought justice to the accused or to the victims. The HLC especially wishes to emphasize that the trial lasted for five years, that the Court tolerated the failure of the accused to appear at the main hearing and justified their absence by the late delivery of the subpoena. The Court constantly avoided securing the presence of the accused with an apprehension of detention order. The Court tolerated disrespectful behavior by the accused towards the Court, thus preventing professionals from within the Serbian Ministry of the Interior, who had information about the murder of Isa Emini, from participating in the trial.

Even though the Court had an obligation truly and completely to establish all facts relevant for rendering the judgment by proposing evidence which would contribute to this, the Court failed to fulfil this obligation. The burden of proof was transferred to the injured party and the Court did not repose trust in the statement given by the injured party.

The two members of the Serbian Ministry of Interior, Miloš Simonović and Dragiša Marković, were charged with the fact that on May 5th, 1999 they entered the apartment owned by the Emini family in Priština/Prishtin and killed Isa Emini with two gun shots. At the moment when Isa was murdered, Ramiza Emini was in the other room with her hands cuffed and  a cloth stuffed inside her mouth.

The trial began on October 8th, 2004 and lasted until June 15th, 2007, when the District Court in Niš rendered an acquittal. The Supreme Court of Serbia dismissed the aforementioned judgment on June 30th, 2008 and returned the case for retrial, ordering a main hearing before a different trial chamber. The retrial began on January 29th, 2010 before a trial chamber of theHigher Court in Niš presided over by Judge Mirko Drašković. Four witnesses of Serbian nationality, who protected the accused, were examined again during the retrial. The Court also examined the injured party Ramiza Emini, who is of Bosniak nationality. The Court insisted on minor inconsistencies in statements given by the injured party Ramiza, and concluded that her statement was flawed and that there was not enough evidence to render a conviction in the case of the accused police officers.

The accused party, Ramiza Emini, said in her statement given before the investigative judge of the District Court in Priština on May 11th, 1999, a week after the incident happened, that on the evening of May 5th, 1999 two men broke into her and Isa’s apartment. She recognized her neighbour Miloš, who wore regular police fatigues, and she knew that the last name of the other man, who wore camouflage military fatigues, was Marković. Miloš took Isa into the living room and Marković entered the kitchen where Ramiza was and asked for her identification documents. Then he stuffed a white T-shirt, which he took out of a travelling bag, into her mouth. He hit her in the head with the butt of a gun and put a pistol to her neck, ordering her not to say a word and swearing against her Shiptar mother. At that moment, Ramiza heard two gun shots coming from the room where her husband and Miloš Simonović were. The injured party repeated this same statement, with minor inconsistencies, in the main hearing sessions held on October 8th, 2004 and April 28th, 2009.