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Zeldin Still Pushing To Find Killers Of Hampton Bays Brothers

July 21, 2017
In The News

U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin is making another attempt to secure justice for three Hampton Bays brothers who were murdered by the Serbian government while on a humanitarian aid mission 18 years ago during the Kosovo War.

Several days after advocating his resolution on the floor of the House of Representatives, a document demanding that the Serbian government locate those responsible for the slayings of the Bytyqi brothers, Mr. Zeldin met with Djerdj Matkovic, the Serbian ambassador to the Unites States, in Washington, D.C. During that private meeting on June 13, Mr. Zeldin said he again asked the Serbian government to more aggressively pursue those responsible for killing Ylli Bytyqi, 25, Agron Bytyqi, 23, and Mehmet Bytyqi, 21, in 1999.

“The ambassador says that there is a new prosecutor on the case, which hopefully leads to a more aggressive pursuit of justice,” Mr. Zeldin said during a recent interview. “The name of the new prosecutor didn’t come up at the meeting, but it sounded like a higher-up position.”

At the time of their deaths, the brothers were on a humanitarian aid mission and had accidentally crossed into Serbian-controlled territory during the Kosovo War. They were arrested by the Serbian government and held for two weeks. Though they were then given a judicial order of release, Serbian government agents instead executed the Americans and their bodies were found in a mass grave in 2001.

At the same time, Mr. Zeldin also provided insight as to why no progress has been made in the investigation into the brothers’ deaths.

“There also seems to be a complication on the Serbian end because the main suspect is a member of the ruling party,” he said. “Now that isn’t by any means any excuse that Americans would accept, but I’m just sharing it as a reality that the Serbians are weighing whether or not to follow through and bring justice in this case.”

The suspect in question, according to Mr. Zeldin, is Goran “Guri” Radosavljevic, former Serbian police general and current member of the Executive Committee of the Serbian Progressive Party—the party of both current President Aleksandar Vucic and former President Tomislav Nikolic.

The office of the Serbian ambassador did not respond to several requests for comment.

“I think it’s very important for the Serbians to resolve the Bytyqi brothers’ case for the sake of U.S.-Serbian relations, but I got the impression at the meeting that the Serbian ambassador would very much rather be talking about other topics that are positive, rather than this unresolved case,” Mr. Zeldin said.

The congressman also recently sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence, signed by House Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce and Ranking Member Eliot Engel, asking that Mr. Pence discuss the case when he meets with President Vucic.