The Serbian special-forces unit known as the Gendarmerie has honored former commander Goran Radosavljevic, who was allegedly involved in the killing of three U.S. citizens who went to Kosovo to fight alongside ethnic Albanian rebels against Belgrade’s rule.
The current commander of the gendarmerie, Dejan Lukovic, praised Radosavljevic’s work as he handed him a plaque on June 30 during a ceremony marking the Day of the Serbian Gendarmerie in the northern town of Novi Sad.
The three U.S. citizens -- brothers Ylli, Agron, and Mehmet Bytyqi -- were in their 20s when they traveled from the United States to Kosovo in 1999 to join Kosovar rebels fighting the forces of then-Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic.
The Chicago-born brothers were arrested in Serbia in June 1999, two weeks after hostilities in the Kosovar war ended. They were later shot dead execution-style while in the custody of a special Serbian police unit that was under the command of Radosavljevic.
Their remains were discovered in a mass grave in the village of Petrovo Selo in eastern Serbia in July 2001.
No one has been convicted in connection with the slayings.
Radosavljevic, who served as the commander of Serbia’s gendarmerie between 2001 and 2004, has denied involvement in the slayings.
Kosovo declared independence in 2008, but it has not been recognized by Belgrade, Russia, and five EU nations. The United States and more than 110 other countries have recognized the independence of Serbia’s former province.