The United States said it was imposing sanctions on a former senior Serbian police official who served as a commander of a camp where three Albanian-American brothers were killed during the 1999 Kosovo war.
The State Department said on December 18 that Goran Radosavljevic was “credibly implicated” in the 1999 murder of the Bytyqi brothers and that Radosavljevic’s wife and daughter would also be hit with sanctions under what’s called a “Section 7031(c) provision.”
That’s a section of U.S. sanctions law that enables the secretary of state to bar foreign officials and their immediate families from entry to the United States if there is "credible information that [the officials] have been involved in significant corruption or gross violations of human rights."
Speaking to RFE/RL by telephone from Serbia, Radosavljevic said he was “neither interested in nor affected” by the U.S. decision, and denied any involvement in the murder of the Bytyqi brothers.
"I gave statements to the [Serbian] investigators, talked about that matter 1,000 times, so it is nonsense to say anything more about that case," he said.
The 1999 slaying of Illy, Mehmet, and Agron Bytyqi has been a sticking point in U.S.-Serbian ties as Belgrade pushes for greater integration with the West.
The Bytyqi brothers were all in their 20s when they traveled to Kosovo from New York in 1999 to join Kosovar rebels fighting the forces of then-Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic.
They were arrested after crossing an administrative border into Serbia on June 23, 1999, two weeks after hostilities in the Kosovo war had ended. They were later shot dead execution-style while in the custody of a special Serbian police unit.
Less than a year after Milosevic’s ouster in October 2000, the brothers’ remains were discovered in a mass grave on the site of a special police unit base in the village of Petrovo Selo in eastern Serbia.
In 2012, a Serbian war crime court acquitted two former policemen of involvement in their deaths, citing insufficient evidence to convict.
The case of the Bytyqi brothers had also attracted scrutiny from Congress, where lawmakers in the past had introduced legislation aimed at pressuring Belgrade to bring Radosavljevic to justice.