Kosovo Serb villager Svetomir Bacevic is charged with seizing an ethnic Albanian woman from her home and mistreating her in the Peja/Pec municipality during the war in 1998.
Svetomir Bacevic stands accused of seizing a 60-year-old ethnic Albanian civilian from her home in the village of Bellopje/Belo Polje in Kosovo’s Peja/Pec municipality in the summer of 1998, according to the indictment which has been obtained by BIRN.
Bacevic, 57, went on trial last week at Pristina Basic Court for the crime, which he is alleged to have committed when conflict between Serbian forces and the rebel Kosovo Liberation Army erupted in the villages near Bellopje/Belo Polje in 1998.
He pleaded not guilty and his defence was given 15 days to submit any objections to the indictment.
The indictment says that Bellopoje/Belo Polje, around three kilometres from the town of Peja/Pec, was mainly inhabited by Serbs until 1999. Three ethnic Albanian families that were living there fled the village when the conflict began in 1998, and only a couple in their 60s, Rexhep and Tigje Kadrija, decided to stay.
The indictment alleges that Svetomir Bacevic entered Rexhep and Tigje Kadrija’s house and “initially fired with machine gun at the roof and windows, damaging them”.
“Then he entered the house under the pretext that he was searching for other people and under threat of arms, he took the victims into the yard and mistreated them physically and psychologically by ordering them several times to sit down and stand up,” it says.
“Threatening them with the gun, [Bacevic] took Tigje to the street and told Rexhep that he was taking his wife to the military and police headquarters and that he could only bring her back after he brings KLA members to the headquarters,” it adds.
The indictment says that in the evening, Bacevic took Tigje Kadrija to the centre of the village and stopped near a village market where many other people were present “with the purpose of humiliating her”.
“At that moment, the victim’s neighbor, Momcilo Savic, arrived at the scene and clashed with the defendant, punching him, and reached out to save the victim and bring her home. Next day, [Savic] took both victims in secrecy from Bellopoje/Belo Polje, giving them the opportunity to go to Peja/Pec,” the indictment adds.
Tigje Kadrija, who according to the indictment could not identify the defendant, is on the list of witnesses proposed by the prosecution. Her husband Rexhep died in 2002.
Bacevic, who has lived in the Serbian town town of Gornji Milanovac since the end of the war in Kosovo in June 1999, has been in detention in Kosovo since December last year, when he was arrested in Peje/Pec.
Media reported that he was detained when he went back to his home town to get his personal documents.
The Serbian government’s office for Kosovo condemned the arrest, saying it was part of “a campaign of intimidation of Serbs in Kosovo”.
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