news 24 Apr 17

Montenegro to Try Kosovo War Murder Suspect

An ex-soldier accused of involvement in the killing of Kosovo Albanians in 1999 while he was serving with the Yugoslav Army will start next month - the first war crimes trial in Montenegro in years.

Dusica Tomovic
BIRN
Podgorica
The Special Prosecution in Podgorica. Photo: tuzilastvo.me

Montenegrin citizen Vlado Zmajevic, suspected of killing of at least six ethnic Albanians in Kosovo in 1999, will go on trial for war crimes on May 10.

It will be the first war crime trial in Montenegro in several years; the country’s judiciary has tried only six cases so far, which all concluded by 2013, the majority ending in acquittals.

Zmajevic, who was part of Yugoslav Army forces fighting in Kosovo in 1998 and 1999, was arrested by Montenegrin police in last August in the town of Niksic.

Zmajevic is charged with having committed crimes against the civilian population.

"The suspect will be questioned by the special prosecutor, after which a decision on further proceedings in this case should be made," the Special Prosecution said in August last year.

According to the Humanitarian Law Centre in Kosovo, Zmajevic is a key suspect in a crime committed by Serbian paramilitaries in the Kosovo village of Zegra in March 1999.

He was one in the group of seven fighters allegedly involved in the killings of Kosovo Albanians in Zegra, the director of the Humanitarian Law Centre, Bekim Bljakaj, said on Thursday.

“Based on the testimony of eyewitnesses, on March 29, 1999, eight buses with obviously army volunteers came to the village and killed six people,” Bljakaj told Radio Free Europe.

“Of course, they were all civilians, of Albanian ethnicity, including old men and women. What we know so far is that there were two women and four men,” he said.

Zmajevic’s name is mentioned in Hague Tribunal records relating to the trials of Serbian police general Sreten Lukic and Yugoslav Army general Nebojsa Pavkovic.

Defence witnesses in both cases claimed Zmajevic was responsible for the killings in the village of Zegra.

According to the Hague court’s records, Zmajevic was a member of the Yugoslav Army’s 175th Motorised Brigade.

After the war in Kosovo ended in 1999, he was arrested, prosecuted by the army and sentenced to 20 years in prison for the crimes in Zegra.

However he did not serve the sentence; the reasons for this are unknown.

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