– International missions in Kosovo did not do enough to find out who kidnapped or killed Serbian and Albanian journalists from 1998 to 2005, according to a new probe by the Serbian Journalists’ Association.
– The author of the UNS investigation, Jelena Petkovic, said that 15 journalists had been killed or abducted in Kosovo from 1998 to 2005 – Shaban Hoti, Ismail Berbatovci, Djuro Slavuj, Ranko Perenic, Afrim Maliqi, Enver Maloku, Ljubomir Knezevic, Aleksandar Simovic, Krist Gegaj, Momir Stokuca, Marjan Melonasi, Shefki Popova, Xhemajl Mustafa, Bekim Kastrati and Bardulj Ajeti.
BY Milica Stojanovic/BIRN
International missions in Kosovo did not conduct proper investigations to establish who abducted or killed journalists and media workers in Kosovo during and after the war, said an investigation launched on Tuesday by the Serbian Journalists’ Association, UNS.
The author of the UNS investigation, Jelena Petkovic, said that 15 journalists had been killed or abducted in Kosovo from 1998 to 2005 – Shaban Hoti, Ismail Berbatovci, Djuro Slavuj, Ranko Perenic, Afrim Maliqi, Enver Maloku, Ljubomir Knezevic, Aleksandar Simovic, Krist Gegaj, Momir Stokuca, Marjan Melonasi, Shefki Popova, Xhemajl Mustafa, Bekim Kastrati and Bardulj Ajeti.
Two German journalists from Stern magazine, Gabriel Gruner and Volker Kramer, along with their translator Senol Alit, were also killed in June 1999.
Petkovic said that only the case of journalist Aleksandar Simovic was treated as a war crime by the EU’s rule-of-law mission in Kosovo, EULEX, and that in some of the cases, EULEX claimed that it did not have records.
“In response to our intention to find out what happened to the investigations into the murders and disappearances of our colleagues, we came to the devastating conclusion that there were no attempts to effectively investigate the [cases of the] Albanian and Serbian journalists,” Petkovic said at the launch of the investigation in Belgrade.
“That is why we do not know today who the killers and the kidnappers are, and we know that they are at large and unpunished,” she added.
She added that only the murder of Shaban Hoti was prosecuted in a case at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.
Petkovic explained that after UNS started to publish stories about the cases, the number of investigations opened in Pristina increased from two to seven, and only then did some of the families receive information about what happened to their loved ones.
Among them were the families of Djuro Slavuj and Ranko Perenic from Radio Pristina, who were abducted in August 1998 near Orahovac/Rehovec in Kosovo.
“Only then did Ranko Perenic’s family received notification from EULEX that Perenic and Djuro Slavuj were intercepted on the road by an armed group of people wearing Kosovo Liberation Army clothing, who threatened them with a weapon and took them away in an unknown direction,” Petkovic said.
Petkovic also criticised the way international institutions dealt with the issue, saying that in some cases “they did not have or did not know where the documents on the murdered and abducted journalists were”.
Journalist Nebojsa Radosevic, who was captured in Kosovo in 1998 with his photographer colleague Vladimir Dobricic on the way to the airport in Pristina, spoke about his experience at Tuesday’s press conference.
“We were [held] in a basement without windows, with an earth floor. They gave us food. However, there were also pistols, machine guns and knives under our throats,” Radosevic said.
He said that they were in captivity for 41 days before being released.