A US congressional committee called Serbia to solve the murders of the Bytyqi brothers, three Kosovo Albanian US citizens who were killed after being arrested by the Serbian police at the end of the 1999 Kosovo war.
The House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee said the Serbian government said in its resolution that “the Government of Serbia and its relevant ministries and offices, including the Serbian War Crimes Prosecutor’s Office, should make it a priority to investigate and prosecute as soon as possible those current or former officials believed to be responsible for their deaths, directly or indirectly”.
The resolution said that Ylli, Agron, and Mehmet Bytyqi were killed “execution style” after being taken from jail by a Serbian police special operations unit and named several ranking Internal Affairs Ministry and police officials allegedly involved in the case who were never held accountable.
“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 added.
Two ranking police officers were indicted in Serbia on charges of detaining and transporting the Bytyqi brothers but were acquitted.
Congresssman Eliot Engel told the Committee session that he and then Vice-President Joe Biden had been promised by President Aleksandar Vucic two years earlier that the Serbian government would bring the murderers to justice. “It is simply unacceptable that no Serbian individuals have yet been brought to justice for these murders. Apparently, there is not even a serious criminal investigation underway. This is appalling,” Engel said.
“Let’s be clear: If Serbia wants to join the EU, they must deal with their past and prosecute those responsible for war crimes,” Engel added.
The committee said the US should assist and monitor the Serbian government efforts to investigate and prosecute individuals believed to be directly or indirectly responsible for the deaths. “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 warned.
US Ambassador to Serbia Kyle Scott said the resolution on the Bytyqi case is an expression of impatience and frustration. “Three American citizens were killed in Serbia 19 years ago and no one has answered for that,” he said, adding that the case will remain a topic in bilateral relations between the US and Serbia.