News 13 Aug 13

Killers of Kosovo Serb Teenagers Remain At Large

Ten years after two Serb teenagers were shot dead and several others injured in the Kosovo town of Gorazdevac, the killers have yet to be prosecuted.

Marija Ristic

The families and friends of Igor Jovovic, 19, and Pantelija Dakic, 13, who were shot dead while swimming in a river on July 13, 2003, will hold a religious ceremony on Tuesday in Gorazdevac to commemorate the tenth anniversary of their deaths.

The relatives said they gave police the names of the alleged killers, but EU’s rule-of-law mission in Kosovo, EULEX, which was investigating the incident, closed the case two years ago, saying it did not have enough evidence to prosecute anyone.

The gunshots, which wounded four other youngsters, are suspected to have come from the nearby Albanian village of Zahac.

A former senior official in Belgrade alleged that there was no political will to solve the murders.

“This crime will never be resolved as long as Kosovo Albanian officials are not ready to face and condemn this crime,” Oliver Ivanovic, a former state secretary at the Serbian ministry for Kosovo and Metohija, told local media.

“Up until recently, every crime against Serbs was considered legitimate because it served one goal, namely an independent Kosovo,” he added.

According to police, right after the shooting, about 100 houses were searched and over 75 people questioned, but despite the offer of a large reward for information, the killers were not found, and EULEX said that it had no choice but to shut down the case.

“The EULEX prosecutor decided to close it because the police investigation did not lead to any results or possible suspects,” said EULEX spokesperson Irina Gudeljevic told BIRN.

But she promised that EULEX would reopen the case if fresh leads emerged.

“It’s very important to emphasise that any formally dismissed investigation can be reopened at any point if new information that could potentially bring the investigation forward becomes available to the prosecutor,” she said.

Following the Kosovo conflict in the late 1990s, the majority of Serbs fled Gorazdevac, a Serb enclave near the town of Pec/Peja in western Kosovo. Around 750 Serbs still live there.

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