On the 25th anniversary of the Panda Café massacre in Peje/Pec, which left six young Serbs dead, the Kosovo government erected a memorial plaque directly blaming Serbian State Security.
The Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Hajrulla Ceku, the Deputy Ministers of Justice, Blerim Sallahu and Vigan Qorolli, and the Director of the Institute for Researching Crimes Committed During the War, Atdhe Hetemi, visited the café in Peje/Pec for the ceremony.
The plaque reads: “Six Serbian youths were executed … by the order of Serbian State Security”.
“For this case, staged by the Serbian authorities, six innocent young Albanians were imprisoned and severely tortured by Serbian police,” the plaque says. “They were acquitted, but the damage caused by the consequences of torture in prison, is irreparable,” it adds.
On the evening of December 14 1998, gunmen opened fire inside the café, killing 15-year-old Ivan Obradovic, 16-year-old Vukota Gvozdenovic, 18-year-olds Svetislav Ristic, Zoran Stanojevic and Dragan Trifovic, and 24-year-old Ivan Radevic.
Two other 18-year-olds, Vlado Loncarevic and Nikola Rajovic, and the café’s owner, Mirsad Sabovic, were were wounded in the shooting.
No one was ever held responsible for the crime.
Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti said on his Facebook account that “Serbia continues to hide the truth about the murder of Serbian youth even after a quarter of a century.
“As he continues not to accept the crimes committed against Albanians during the 1998-99 war”, Kurti wrote.
In the early years after the 1999 war in Kosovo, the public in Serbia believed that the massacre was committed by Albanians, since in the winter of 1998 the war, which months later escalated when NATO start bombing Yugoslavia, was already ongoing.
In the last 10 years Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic gave vague indications that authorities know the situation was different.
On “Teska rec” (Hard word) a TV show on Pink television, in December 2013, after a press conference where he announced that the case of the murder of prominent Serbian journalist Slavko Curuvija had been solved, Vucic said: “Many cases were left aside that everyone knew everything about, and no one wanted to move from the dead spot.”
“May I ask you, how far did we get the investigation into the murder of the young men in the Panda Cafe in Pec? Have we really found out who killed those children of ours, or will we be surprised in the future?” Vucic asked.
When a journalist questioned whether he was saying the perpetrators were not “Albanian terrorists”, Vucic answered: “I want to say that we have no evidence for that. On the contrary. I want to say that there are many terrible things that we will have to face.”
In the coming years, Vucic made similar vague statements about the case but in recent years he did not further comment. Parents of victims’ claim they asked to meet Vucic multiple times but without success.
The Serbian war crimes prosecution started an investigation in 2017 but no indictment has been filed yet.
Serbia’s former war crimes prosecutor, Vladimir Vukcevic, told BIRN in 2018 that that there were “almost no Albanians” in the Peje/Pec region at the time of the attack.
Source : BalkanInsight