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Kosovo Prosecution File Details War Crime Claims Against Arrested Serbs

A Kosovo prosecution file, seen by BIRN, details allegations of war crimes against three Serbs who were remanded in custody for a month on Thursday by Pristina Basic Court.

The three Serbs – Zoran Kostic, Dragan Milovic, alias Musa, and Ilija Elezovic – are suspected of committing the crimes against civilians in the Vushtrri/Vucitrn area during the Kosovo war in 1999.

According to the prosecution file, they were members of a group of Serbian paramilitary police who were stationed at the house of a local resident in the village of Reznik in the Vushtrri/Vucitrn municipality.

Kostic is suspected of having been the commander of the paramilitary group, leading its operations against civilians.

One of these operations allegedly ledby  Kostic was the massacre of the Ujkani family, whose bodies, after execution, were burned in their houses in the village of Reznik, according to the prosecution file.

It’s alleged that Elezovic shot a man identified only as S.F. in his leg in the village of Nakovc in February 1999.

After the victim fell, Elezovic allegedly shot at him again, missing him. The prosecution claims that Elezovic was accompanied by unidentified persons.

The prosecution also alleges in its file that on May 22, 1999, Serbian forces, including Trajkovic, rounded up around 20,000 to 50,000 civilians, who had previously been expelled from their homes, in the cemetery in the city of Vushtrri/Vucitrn.

The civilians were ordered to sit on the ground and were beaten with wooden sticks on their heads and other parts of their bodies, according to the prosecution.

The prosecution further claims that the suspects, in collusion with other members of Serbian forces, separated the men from other family members, loaded them into trucks and took them to the Vushtrri/Vucitrn sports hall, where they were told that anyone who gave them money would be released.

However, the men were not released even after they handed over their money, and were beaten up instead.

They were then sent to the Technical School in Mitrovica for questioning and after that to Smerkonica Prison.

The prosecution file alleges that the detainees were kept in inhumane conditions, beaten and tortured, before eventually being sent to neighbouring Albania.

Earlier this month, the Kosovo prosecution indicted another suspect, Sladjan Trajkovic, in a separate but similar case, for participating in the events of May 22, 1999, and the inhumane treatment of the detainees.

Trajkovic entered a not guilty plea at Pristina Basic Court on September 11, 2023, denying that he was involved in war crimes committed in April and May 1999 during attacks on ethnic Albanian civilians in Kosovo by Serbian forces.

Serbian leaders have condemned the arrests of Kostic, Milovic, and Elezovic, claiming that such actions are intended to intimidate the Serb minority to leave Kosovo.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Wednesday demanded international intervention to free the three Serbs.

Source : BalkanInsight