Dusko Arsic in court on June 13, 2023. Photo: BIRN

Witnesses Accuse Serbian Ex-Police Officer of Abuse and Murder

Dusko Arsic is accused of involvement in the expulsion, mistreatment and murder of Kosovo Albanian residents of Prishtina in 1999.

Prosecution witnesses in the war crimes trial of former Serbian police officer Dusko Arsic accused him on Tuesday of beating one of the injured parties and taking part in the expulsion of civilians and then the looting and torching of their homes in Prishtina between January and June 1999.

One witness, identified only by the initials I.K., told Pristina basic court that he saw blood on the face and back of Artan Krasniqi, a minor at the time and who prosecutors say was beaten by Arsic and ordered to carry the body of another person who had been shot dead.

I.K described Krasniqi as being in “a serious condition”.

“In the beginning, he said the name Dusko and mentioned the names Dragan and Boban,” the witness said. “He told us about someone who was injured, but we didn’t believe him, but then it turned out to be true.”

Arsic is accused of participating in the execution of a person identified as B.Sh. on February 20, 1999 in the Kosovo village of Butovc. The alleged killers ordered Krasniqi, who was 15 years old at the time, to carry the body on his back.

Arsic hit Krasniqi in the lower back with the barrel of a machine gun, the indictment states. When he fell to the ground, the Serbian police and paramilitaries began abusing him physically and psychologically.

Krasniqi had said that B.Sh was still breathing when he carried him and that nobody had believed him until his remains were found after the war.

At a hearing on June 7, the father of the injured Krasniqi, G.K., also quoted his son as identifying the killers as “Dragan, Boban and Dusko Arsic”.

Another witness, A.M., said that while cutting trees with his father in 2000 they had noticed some clothing. “We got close and saw that it was a human body,” he said. “We collected it, there were only the bones, we gathered them and went to the house, we took a bag and put them in, and then my father notified the police.”

The remains were those of B.Sh., whose brother testified that a week after the burial of his murdered brother, Krasniqi visited their house and burst into tears when he saw a photograph of B.Sh. on the wall of the house.

Another witness, Syle Imeri, told the court on June 7: “I know him [Arsic] as a very strong criminal and he is a criminal because he killed our parents”.

“They attacked us, they burned all the property we had, they killed my father…” he said, and described how he had to collect the remains of his parents “and put them in plastic bags”.

The indictment accuses Arsic of participating – alongside other Serbian police officers and paramilitaries – in the forced displacement and expulsion of ethnic Albanian residents of Pristina. They then looted their houses and set them on fire. The indictment also accuses Arsic of involvement in the mistreatment of Albanian civilians, some of whom were wounded and others killed.

Arsic pleaded not guilty to all charges in November 2022.

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13 June 2023 - 18:19

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