Verdict in Bytyqi case due on Tuesday

11929121157562529The war crimes chamber in Belgrade is expected to deliver its verdict today in the case of 2 suspected accomplices in the murder of the Bytyqi brothers in 1999.

The trial of Sreten Popović and Miloš Stojanović, former members of the Serbian Interior Ministry, began on November 13, 2006. They are suspected of handing the Bytyqi brothers over to unknown Interior Ministry officials, who killed them in July 1999, in Petrovo Selo.

The case of the murder of the three Bytyqi brothers is considered a state crime, and has been further complicated by the fact that the brothers were American citizens, prosecution spokesman Bruno Vekarić said.

Vekarić said that regardless of the international element, it was very important for such cases to be tried in court.

“Of course, we are not happy with how things have gone in terms of the investigation itself. It is clear that uniform statements were given during the investigation, and later in the main hearing,” Vekarić said.

“We are looking for a sentence to be given to the two suspects in accordance with the law and to find them guilty, because their role was essential in the crime,” he said.

The two suspects’ defense counsel, Božo Prelević, said that there was no doubt that a gruesome crime had been committed against the Bytyqi brothers, but that Stojanović and Popović should not be held responsible for it, because it had never been confirmed when they were killed, how or with what weapon.

“If they are convicted, as the indictment calls for, I think that we would do irreparable damage and have a completely illogical decision,” Prelević said.

“This is the first time that the KLA has been declared an armed military organization. It continues to be, on all relative sites, a terrorist organization,” he said.

“I should point out that this is a case against two police officers that turned over the Bytyqi brothers in a chain of command, in which they were just the middle link,” Prelević added.

Brothers Ili, Agron and Mehmet Bytyqi were American citizens of Albanian nationality and members of the so-called Atlantic Brigade, a sub-unit of the Kosovo Liberation Army.

They were arrested for illegal entry into the then Yugoslavia, sentenced to 15 days in prison in Prokuplje, before being taken to Petrovo Selo four days prior to the end of their prison term and executed.

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