Trial of six Serbs accused of genocide to open in Kosovo
The trial of six Kosovo Serbs on the charge of genocide opens before the District Court in Kosovska Mitrovica on 5 December. Igor Simic, one of the defendants, has been in custody for the past 15 months. Co-defendants Dragan Jovanovic, Srdjan Aleksic, Vlastimir Aleksic, Branislav Popovic and Tomislav Vuckovic in the meantime escaped from the District Prison in Kosovska Mitrovica and will be tried in absentia. Prosecutor Muharem Ramadani has charged the six Serbs with “deliberately killing Albanians, forcing them in an organized and systematic manner to move out, plundering and destroying their property, all with the aim of completely or partly destroying the Albanian community in Kosovska Mitrovica.”
One of the counts against Simic, Jovanovic, Srdjan and Vlastimir Aleksic, and Popovic is the murder of 26 Albanians which they allegedly committed on 14 April 1999 “with firearms and knives and wearing camouflage uniforms with badges of the Serbian Radical Party.” All the accused denied any wrongdoing during the investigation. The prosecutor has proposed the calling of over 40 witnesses. Judge Christer Karphammar of Sweden presides the panel hearing the case.
The Humanitarian Law Center observes all trials for ethnically motivated crimes in Kosovo.