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Serb Soldier Given Alibi in Kosovo Wartime Massacre Trial

Tijana Vasic, the former sister-in-law of Milan Ivanovic, told Belgrade Higher Court on Monday that the defendant was at home with his family when the massacre of Kosovo Albanians in which he was allegedly involved took place in April 1999.

Vasic said that Ivanovic, who according to the indictment was a Yugoslav Army soldier, spent the whole period of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, from Mar 24, 1999 to Jun 10, 1999, at home in the city of Pec/Peja in Kosovo.

“I’m vouching for him, I was there [at home] with my father-in-law, mother-in-law and him,” she told the court.

Ivanovic is one of ten former members of the 177th Yugoslav Army Unit on trial for committing war crimes in the western Kosovo villages of Zahac/Zahaq, Cuska/Qyshk, Pavlan and Ljubenic.

The indictment alleges that they killed at least 118 ethnic Albanians.

Ivanovic is only indicted for the killings in Ljubenic on April 1, 1999. According to the indictment, he and the other defendants and unnamed soldiers entered the village killed at least 46 male civilians and forcibly displaced women, children and elderly people who were driven out towards Albania.

His former sister-in-law told the court that the whole family lived together in Pec/Peja, that her husband, Ivanovic’s brother Milovan, was mobilised in February 1999 but that Milan Ivanovic, although he wore a military uniform, was not mobilised.

The trial has been marred by delays and repeated postponements of hearings. Before Monday, when the court heard Vasic and two other witnesses, the previous witness was heard in a closed hearing in March and the one before that was heard in July 2022.

The ex-soldiers on trial were initially convicted in 2014 and sentenced to a total of 106 years in jail, but the Serbian appeals court reversed the verdict in 2015 and sent the case for a retrial.

Source : Balkaninsight