HLCK-Press release 1-06.07.2021

Press release: Zoran Vukotić is issued his second conviction for war crimes in Kosovo

Pristina,06.07.2021

The Trial Panel of the Special Department of the Basic Court in Prishtina (with Judge Valbona Musliu Selimaj1 presiding), on July 5, 2021, found the accused, Zoran Vukotic, guilty of the criminal offense of sexual assault as a war crime against the civil population and sentenced him to ten (10) years of imprisonment.

The Humanitarian Law Center Kosovo (HLCK) has regularly monitored the trial of the accused Vukotic. Based on the monitoring of the trial, which was closed to the public, HLCK concludes that the trial was fair, impartial, and conducted within a reasonable time. The judgment was announced after seven (7) court hearings, and seven (7) witnesses proposed by the prosecution were heard, including the injured party D.1.

The trial panel confirmed that the accused, Zoran Vukotic, as a member of the reserves unit of the police force of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Serbia, on 22 May 1999, at the Vushtrri/Vučitrn cemetery, in cooperation with the Serbian military, police and paramilitary forces, gathered the Albanian civilian population, after having previously been expelled from their settlements, ordered them to sit on the ground and, while in that position, the accused used violence and started beating them with a wooden stick, hitting them on their heads and other parts of the body, and then, in co-perpetration with other members of the said unit, separated the young men, put them in trucks and removed them towards an unknown direction, and forced women, children and the elderly to wait in line in front of a two-story house, purportedly to provide them with identification cards. When he approached victim D.1, the accused took her by force and put her in a room on the second floor of the house, where there were also other women naked and raped by other police officers. In the presence of those women and other police officers the accused raped her.

Since the end of the armed conflict in Kosovo, four (4) indictments for rape as war crimes against the civilian population have been filed by the local judiciary, including international missions, against five (5) persons. In three (3) earlier indictments the defendants were acquitted. The last indictment against the accused Zoran Vukotic was filed on March 6, 2020, by the Special Prosecution of the Republic of Kosovo.2

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1 Members of the trial panel, judges: Valon Kurtaj and Suzana Çerkini
2 The indictment was filed by the special prosecutor, Drita Hajdari.