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Kosovo Bosniak Pleads Not Guilty to War Crimes Against Civilians

Ekrem Bajrovic entered a not guilty plea at Pristina Basic court on Monday, where he is on trial for allegedly committing war crimes against ethnic Albanian civilians in the municipality of Istog/Istok during the Kosovo war.

According to the indictment, during the war in Kosovo in 1998-99, in the municipality of Istog/Istok and surrounding villages, Bajrovic, an ethnic Bosniak with citizenship of Kosovo and Montenegro, was involved in the murder, beatings, arrests, torture and inhumane treatment of civilians.

Bajrovic is accused of having committed the crimes as a member of Serbian police and military forces, individually as well as in collaboration with others.

The indictment states that in the village of Saradran/Staradan on May 8, 1999, a column of fleeing ethnic Albanian civilians who were heading towards Albania was stopped by Serbian police and military forces, among whom was Bajrovic.

The men were separated from the rest of the group and had their money and other valuables taken from them. They were then placed in the yard of a house and lined up with their hands raised, facing a wall. Members of Serbian forces then physically assaulted them.

During the beating, the men were taunted by being asked: “Where is NATO?” and “Where is the KLA [Kosovo Liberation Army]?”, according to the indictment.

The indictment says that the men were then sent to a house where at least 16 were shot and only one survived.

On May 7, 1999, in the same village, Bajrovic is also accused of participating in the arrest, kidnapping and mistreatment of 84 civilians. They were initially separated from a column of fleeing ethnic Albanians and had all their money and valuables taken, the indictment claims.

They were taken to a bar in the village of Gurakoc/Djurakovac, where they were mistreated and tortured.

According to the indictment, Bajrovic led the violence, as well as hitting one of the victims with the butt of a machine gun.

The civilians were then transferred to the local police station, where they were tortured and threatened with death, suffering serious bodily injuries and trauma, the charges allege.

Source : Balkan Insight