Radio Free Europe: Police acquitted of Bytyqi brothers murder

22.09.2009 – The War Crimes Chamber of the Belgrade District Court acquitted two former members of the Serbian Ministry of Interior, Sreten Popović and Miloš Stojanović, who were charged with torture and violating the Bytyqi brothers’ right to fair trial.

The brothers, Agron and Mehmet Bytyqi, were killed in Petrovo Selo in July 1999, where their mortal remains were discovered two years later.

The Bytyqi brothers were US citizens of Albanian origin and members of the so-called Atlantic brigade, which formed a part of the structure of the Kosovo Liberation Army.

“This judgement is designed to acquit anyone who knew, who was there when the murder was committed; it belies all healthy reasoning”, said the Executive Director of the Humanitarian Law Center Nataša Kandić, commenting on the acquittal of Sreten Popović and Miloš Stojanović.

Kandić, who from the outset of the trial had represented the victims, publicly abandoned the case, stating “It is a mockery, because it shows the weakness of the judiciary”.

Nataša Kandić said that the prosecutor was not in a position to gather information in this case.

“That’s why there is protection, silence… It was not possible to raise questions and to see the whole story unwind. There are those two who participated in it. They know when the brothers were killed; they know absolutely every detail, but no one can force them to speak before the court. They are, I am completely sure, accomplices in transferring and hiding the brothers. But they are not the main culprits or the most responsible.”

What, according to Nataša Kandić, has this acquittal shown us?

“It only shows us that here we have a group that threatens violence; that shows that it was sometimes stronger than the state, also it shows us that we have a group in the institutions that is capable of completely blocking the judicial process; a group that is capable of halting the flow of any sort of information, even that which is not particularly important, but would help to reveal the truth about the red berets.”