Vuckovic, Bisevac trial to resume in Kosovska Mitrovica

The trial of Miroslav Vuckovic and Bozur Bisevac on the charge of genocide resumes in Kosovska Mitrovica on 25 October.  Bisevac is being tried in absentia.

The two men are accused of creating together with other unidentified persons “an atmosphere of fear by shooting off firearms in Gusgavac and Gornji Suvi Do villages and making death threats” in the period between 22 March and early May 1999, “with the intent of forcibly displacing the Albanian population and completely or partly destroying the Albanian community.”  According to the indictment, after forcing the villagers to leave their homes, the defendants divided between themselves valuables from the abandoned houses and then set the buildings on fire.  The prosecutor alleges that they torched a house although they knew an elderly woman, Hazire Sahiti, was in it.

During the investigatory proceedings, Vuckovic denied setting fire to any houses or murdering anybody, saying he worked for the ambulance service during the war and helped Albanians.  He confirmed that some houses in Suvi Do were torched but said he did not know by whom.

Witness Semsa Sahiti identified Vuckovic during the first session of the trial as one of the men who torched the house in which his mother died. Sahiti told the court that he watched the incident from behind a wall some fifty meters from the house, a nd said Vuckovic was in police uniform at the time.  According to this witness, Bisevac stood guard while Vuckovic, armed with an automatic rifle, went into the house. Gunshots were heard a few moments later.

Nenad Vukasovic, Miodrag Brkljac, Miro Delevic and Igor Pantelic, counsel for the defense, called into doubt the impartiality of the panel presided by Judge Mahmut Halimi and including Judge Christer Karphammer of Sweden, and disputed the legality and legitimacy of the court.