House of Representatives Urges Serbia to Find US Albanians’ Killers
The House of Representatives on Tuesday unanimously adopted the resolution calling on the Serbian authorities to investigate and prosecute as soon as possible “those current or former officials believed to be responsible” for the killing of Ylli, Agron, and Mehmet Bytyqi in Serbia in July 1999.
The three Bytyqi brothers, US citizens of Albanian origin, went to fight for the Kosovo Liberation Army against Belgrade’s forces in 1999 but were arrested by Serbian police after the war ended when they strayed over an unmarked boundary line between Serbia and Kosovo.
After serving their sentences for illegal border crossing, they were re-arrested as they were leaving the district prison in the town of Prokuplje in southern Serbia, taken to a police training centre in Petrovo Selo, and detained in a warehouse there.
They were then driven to a garbage disposal pit, where they were executed with shots to the back of the neck on July 9, 1999.
The resolution said that “it is reprehensible that no individual has ever been found guilty for executing the Bytyqi brothers, or of any other crimes associated with their deaths, and that no individual is even facing charges for these horrible crimes”.
It also said that “progress in resolving this case, or the lack thereof, should remain a significant factor determining the further development of relations between the United States and the Republic of Serbia”.
The resolution will now go to the US Senate, paving the way for it to be fully adopted by Congress.
The Bytyqi family hopes that new US envoys appointed to help resolve the Kosovo-Serbia dispute, Matt Palmer and Rich Grenell, will put the brothers’ case on their agenda in Belgrade.
“My family is very humbled by Congress’ action today. We hope that Special Representative Matt Palmer and Special Envoy Rich Grenell will listen to these voices and prioritise the Bytyqi Brothers case and war crimes justice in their work. Today, Congress showed that victims cannot be ignored,” Ilir Bytyqi, the brother of the men who were killed, said in a statement.
The Bytyqi family believe that Goran Radosavljevic, alias ‘Guri’, the former commander of a special police unit and of the Petrovo Selo training centre, is the main suspect in the case.
Radosavljevic told Radio Free Europe in Belgrade that he is “not worried” about the resolution.
“I am clean and I have no reason to be afraid. I was never afraid. I am always ready to respond to the call of the judicial authorities in Serbia,” he said.
The US State Department imposed travel restrictions on Radosavljevic in December 2018 over his alleged role in human rights violations during the Kosovo war.
Radosavljevic maintains that he was on vacation at the time of the killings and denies any wrongdoing.
He is now a senior official of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic’s ruling Progressive Party.