Two kosovo Serbs on trial for genocide

The trial of two Kosovo Serbs, Miroslav Vuckovic and Bozur Bisevac, for genocide resumes before the District Court in Kosovska Mitrovica on Tuesday, 31 October. Bisevac is being tried in absentia. According to the indictment, Vuckovic and Bisevac and other unidentified persons forced the ethnic Albanian inhabitants of Suvi Do and Gusgevac villages to leave their homes by shooting off firearms. They are also charged with looting and torching Albanian houses and the murder of Hazire Sahiti, an elderly woman, whose house they allegedly set afire “even though they were aware she was inside.” In the indictment broght on 11 November last year, the prosecutor proposed the calling of 25 witnesses. The five witnesses heard so far accused Vuckovic and Bisevac of crimes not cited in the indictment, including torture and killing of civilians.Counsel for the defense – Miodrag Brkljac, Miro Delevic, Zoran Janicijevic and Ljubomir Pantovic – pointed to the contradictory testimonies of the witnesses, some of which conflicted with the statements they made during the investigation.

Several witnesses said in court they watched Vuckovic and Bisevac kill civilians, loot and torch houses from hiding places in the two villages. During the investigation, however, they had stated that they watched what was happening from the surrounding hills. Presiding Judge Mahmut Halimi warned Ekrem Beka that his testimony about watching Vuckovic and Bisevac setting fire to houses was at odds with his statement during the investigation that thick smoke prevented him from recognizing anyone from a distance of 400 meters. Beka replied that he had made the same statements to the investigators and the court, and did not know why his words were recorded differently in the investigation report.

When Judge Christer Karphammer of Sweden remarked that Beka had told investigators he watched the burning of the village through binoculars whereas he testified in court that he watched from close by, Beka said he was traumatized and confused during the investigation. Though Vuckovic had chosen to exercise his right to remain silent in protest against the Court, which, he said, was ignoring the poor state of his health, he several times said the witnesses were lying. After his arrest on 23 August, Vuckovic denied all the accusations against him. He said he knew that some Albanian houses in his village Suvi Do had been burned but that he did not know by whom. He added that he had worked for the ambulance service and helped Albanians during the war.