News 14 Nov 12

Not Guilty Plea for War Crimes in Kosovo

Former member of the Serbian paramilitary unit known as the "Jackals", Dejan Bulatovic, has pleaded not guilty to charges of  war crimes committed in Kosovo during the 1998- 1999 war.

Marija Ristic
BIRN
Belgrade

The trial of 14 members of the Serbian paramilitary unit, the so called "Jackals", who are charged with war crimes against ethnic Albanian civilians in and around the Kosovo town of Pec in 1999, has continued on Tuesday before the Special Court in Belgrade.

This was the first appearance of Dejan Bulatovic before the court, as the charges against him were filed in September 27.

On the same day the prosecution extended the indictment to include not only war crimes in the village of Cuska but also alleged crimes commited in the nearby villages of Zahac, Pavlan and Ljubenic, all in the municipality of Pec in western Kosovo.

According to the new, extended,  indictment the 14 former  "Jackals" are charged with killing at least 73 ethnic Albanian civilians.

“Under the command of Nebojska Minic, so called Mrtvi [Dead], the accused killed and expelled Albanians from this area, destroying their property with an aim to force them to permanently leave the area and move to Albania, “ said the prosecutor, Dragoljub Stojanovic, explaining the indictment.

Stojanovic added that a number of survivors of the attacks on the villages and as well as a former member of Jackals, now witness, Zoran Raskovic,  will be called to testify.

Responding to the prosecutor’s opening statements, Dejan Bulatovic pleaded not guilty.

“Of course I am not guilty. This is all a lie and a set up. Half of the people here I don’t even know. And I have never heard of this commander Minic,” Bulatovic said.

According to the indictment, the leader of the Jackals squad was Nebojsa Minic, also known as “Commander of Death”, who was a voluntary member of the police unit of Pec.

He was arrested in Argentina in 2005 while on the run, but died of AIDS the same year, during the extradition process.

The trial will resume on November 14.

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