The Bytyqi Brothers

Until Justice is Served

U.S. Government Quotes

Congressman Lee Zeldin, June 28, 2018

“It is absolutely reprehensible that, despite many promises by Serbian officials to resolve the case of this state-sponsored murder, no individual has ever been found guilty of this horrible crime, nor of any other crimes associated with the deaths of these innocent Americans. It is the Serbian government’s responsibility to resolve this case, and my resolution notes that progress with this investigation should remain a significant factor which determines the further development of U.S.-Serbian relations.”

Congressman Eliot Engel, June 28, 2018

“Serbian President Vucic promised me two years ago that his government would bring the murderers to justice. He promised the same to Vice President Biden. It is simply unacceptable that no Serbian individuals have yet been brought to justice for these murders. Apparently, there is not even a serious criminal investigation underway. This is appalling.”

Secretary Rex Tillerson, December 2017

“We share [] frustration with the lack of progress in the Bytyqi case… and raise the issue with Serbian officials at all levels of government, including with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. We have also informed Serbian officials that these issues stand in the way of closer bilateral relations.”

Congressman Eliot Engel, December 12, 2017

“Until Serbia brings those who have committed these serious crimes to justice, the EU should not move ahead with Belgrade’s accession process, and the United States should think twice before advancing our relations with Serbia”

Congressman Lee Zeldin, July 13, 2017

“The Bytyqi brothers left the comfort and safety of their homes in the United States to help stop horrific crimes against humanity abroad…. While Serbian authorities have investigated the deaths of the brothers, there have been no charges brought against those responsible for these murders. Moreover, the main suspect remains a prominent member of the governing political party…. It is absolutely reprehensible that, despite many promises by Serbian officials to resolve the case, no individual has ever been found guilty of this horrible crime, nor of any other crimes associated with the deaths of these innocent Americans. It is the responsibility of the Serbian government to resolve this case, and my resolution notes that progress into this investigation should remain a significant factor which determines the further development of U.S.-Serbian relations. Their inaction on finding and prosecuting those responsible is an insult not only to the memory of the Bytyqi brothers and their family, but to every American. The Bytyqi brothers gave their lives to fight injustice; it is now upon us to return this favor and deliver justice for their family.”

Ambassador Kyle Scott, October 30, 2016

“This is obviously a burden for the Bytyqi family, but also a burden for our bilateral relationship[.] When three of our citizens were arrested by Serbian police, handed over from one unit of the police to another, and then found out back with their hands tied, executed gangland style, someone is responsible and it defied logic that no one saw anything and no one knows anything.

“I find it very difficult to understand that nothing happened to any of the members of that group and that in fact, the leader of that unit is now in a position on the Executive Board of the leading party in this country.”

Ambassador Kyle Scott, February 18, 2016

“This is a painful issue. There is no question about it. Every Embassy around the world is responsible for the protection of their citizens. In the case of the Bytyqi brothers, we have three American citizens who were arrested by the police in Serbia, taken out back with their hands tied, and shot in the head. We have received assurances on many occasions by Serbian authorities that they will continue to move forward with the investigation. It defies logic to assume that no one saw anything, no one knows anything. Clearly the Bytyqi family deserves to have closure, so as long as this case remains open, as long as it hasn’t been resolved it will remain a weight on our relationship.”

“The American people cannot allow the murderers of three of our citizens toescape justice…. I am committed to unwavering efforts to press the Serbian government to complete thorough investigations and ensure that all who were involved in these crimes are brought to justice, regardless of their rank or position.”

Congressman Lee Zeldin, July 8, 2015

“Together, as Americans, we must seek justice for these brutal murders. The Government of Serbia, and all relevant parties, must hold accountable those responsible for the executions of the Bytyqi brothers.”

Congressman Lee Zeldin, May 21, 2015

“The Serbian government must hold accountable those responsible for the senseless murders of the Bytyqi brothers. I strongly encourage the Government of Serbia, and all relevant parties, to make it a top priority to seek justice for these brutal acts of hatred and violence.”

Senator Benjamin Cardin, March 18, 2015

“The clear lack of justice in that case not only perpetuates the hurt felt by surviving friends and family. It also denies Serbia the ability to confront a dark time in its history and to put the past behind it. It allows a degree of distrust between neighboring communities and peoples to linger. It is a single case, but one which reverberates.”

Congressman Lee Zeldin, February 25, 2015

“Despite [] promises, I am concerned that there has been no discernible progress in the case.  Equally concerning is the fact that Goran Radosavljevic, the commander of the facility where the Bytyqi’s were murdered, remains a close advisor to the current government…. I call upon the Serbian government to also aspire to new heights in its own processing of war crimes from the 1990’s and to finally ensure justice in the Bytyqi case.”

Senator Benjamin Cardin, February 25, 2015

“In Serbia’s case, the unresolved accountability for the Bytyqi brothers massacre needs to be resolved.  And we would urge you to give this matter prompt and immediate attention to bring those responsible to justice for this tragedy.”

Ambassador Stephen J. Rapp, February 19, 2015

We need to find those who ordered it and those who performed it. Neither myself nor Ambassador Michael Kirby, nor any future US ambassador will rest until this case is resolved.”

Deputy Assistant Secretary Thomas Melia, February 3, 2015

“In Washington… there is concern about the murder of the Bytyqi brothers and we are regularly bringing up the matter with the Serbian government.”

Ambassador Daniel B. Baer, July 17, 2014

“The U.S. Government and the surviving Bytyqi family in New York state have been repeatedly assured by Serbian authorities, including at senior levels, that action will be taken in this case. Serbia’s new prime minister has recently renewed to us his government’s assurances of action to solve this case[.] Up until now, however, after considerable time, we have unfortunately still not seen clear action.”

Senator Benjamin Cardin, Chairman of the Helsinki Commission, July 8, 2014

“[N]o clear steps have actually been taken to apprehend and prosecute those known to have been in command of the camp or the forces operating there….The new government of Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic has pledged to act.  It must now generate the political will to act.  The protection of those responsible for this crime can no longer be tolerated.”

Congressman Tim Bishop, July 7, 2014

“As Serbia continues to move towards rectifying the evils of its past and joining the ranks of democratic nations, it is important that the individuals involved in the death of the Bytyqi brothers are held accountable for their actions[.]”

Jonathan Moore, U.S. State Department Director of the Office of South Central Europe, July 2014

“This case remains at the top of our bilateral agenda with Serbia. Prime Minister Vucic told us in May that we would see progress in this case this summer.”

Ambassador Michael D. Kirby, June 26, 2014

“We continue to do everything in our power to hold Serbian officials to their commitments that those responsible for ordering and carrying out this awful crime will be brought to justice…. [We have] emphasized to prosecutors that it is their solemn duty to follow the evidence wherever it leads.”

Senator Ben Cardin, Chairman of the Helsinki Commission, March 5, 2014

“[The Bytyqi Brothers were] American citizens and we have been seeking answers to why no one’s been held accountable for these atrocities.  [Family members] expect our government to do everything we can.”

“Now that Serbia is moving towards integration into Europe, the opportunities to get closer cooperation may very well exist.”

Deputy Assistant Secretary Hoyt Yee, March 5, 2014

“[W]e at the State Department and the entire U.S. government, all agencies who are concerned with this issue, take the importance of bringing to justice, of ensuring that those responsible are brought to justice, extremely seriously.”

“We are dedicated to raising this with the Serbian government at every opportunity. Deputy Secretary Burns recently met with the prime minister of Serbia and brought it up as one of the first topics of the agenda.”

“[T]he U.S. government’s expectation [is] that Serbia does everything possible to bring to justice those responsible for the murder of the Bytyqi brothers.”

“I would like to reassure you and also the members of the family who are present today of our unwavering commitment. We will not rest until we ensure that justice is done in this case.”

“I met with [] Deputy Prime Minister Vucic also, and made clear that in our bilateral relations . . . we expect resolution and we expect justice.”

Ambassador Michael Kirby, December 2013

“I think it is in the interest of the people of [Serbia] that no one, not even the government, can get away with the crime, whoever the victim.”

“One of my responsibilities is to make sure that justice is done for our citizens . . . . I want this case to be completed.  Until that happens, it will continue to burden our relationship.”

Congressman Tim Bishop, October 22, 2013

“Our government should do everything it can to ensure the successful prosecution of those responsible for the murders of U.S. citizens abroad. It should provide resources as needed, and it should make it clear to the authorities in Belgrade that inaction does have repercussions on bilateral relations.”

“Hopefully, Serbia’s political leaders will not only recognize the seriousness which we attach to this case but also understand that it is in Serbia’s interest to let justice work to sever the ties with the Milosevic past that have held the country back from a Europe where it otherwise belongs.”

Ambassador Robert Bradtke, Head of Delegation OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, October 2, 2013

“There has not been a proper accounting for this crime; those who ordered and carried out the crime have not been brought to justice.”

Congressman Eliot Engel, April 25, 2013

“I’ve been deeply concerned that to date no individuals have been convicted for the brutal killing of three United States citizens, the Bytyqi brothers: Agron, Ylli, and Mehmet…. It’s a long time ago, we want to move on, but eleven years after the discovery of their bodies no one has been held accountable for their killing and the chief suspects in the chain of command, including the camp commander, have never been charged.”

“These are three American citizens and we really demand answers for American citizens.”

Jonathan Moore, U.S. State Department Director of the Office of South Central Europe, April 25, 2013

“This is a case which disturbs us greatly, the arrest and then murder of three American citizens.”

“We have engaged at this level, at the most senior, bilateral levels including by Secretary Clinton when she was in Belgrade last fall.  Our Deputy Secretary of State raised it directly with Prime Minister Dacic and he’s also Interior Minister of Serbia.  We continue to call upon these authorities in Belgrade to investigate this case and to prosecute it.”

“We are not aware of direct progress.”

“Serbia is certainly very well aware that it is extremely high on our bilateral agenda. We want to see justice in this case, as in all cases of war crimes.”

“[U]nfortunately to this point we have not received any information from the government or authorities of Serbia that that case is moving forward other than some investigations.”

U.S. Department of State Universal Periodic Review, January 30, 2013

“We are further disappointed by the lack of progress in the Bytyqi [] case.  It has been thirteen years since three U.S. citizen brothers, Agron, Ylli and Mehmet Bytyqi, were detained and executed by Serbian authorities after accidentally crossing the Serbia-Kosovo administrative line.  The Serbian war crimes prosecutor has been investigating the case, but according to our information, substantial progress in the investigation has not been made.”

Ambassador Avis Bohlen, September 26, 2012

“Serbia has yet to deal effectively with the summary execution [of the Bytyqi brothers]. There has not been a proper accounting for this crime, and those who are ultimately responsible remain free.”

Senator Ben Cardin, Chairman of the Helsinki Commission, August 1, 2012

“Ylli, Agron and Mehmet were never given a fair and public trial, an opportunity to defend themselves, or any semblance of due process.  Their post-conflict, extrajudicial killing was cold-blooded murder.”

“[P]rogress, however, has not sufficiently infiltrated the Interior Ministry, affording protection to those who participated in the Bytyqi murders and other egregious Milosevic-era crimes.”

“Nobody has been held accountable for the Bytyqi murders.  Those in command of the camp and the forces operating there have never been charged.”

Ambassador-Designate Michael Kirby, July 18, 2012

“The murderers of the three Bytyqi brothers, New York residents who were executed by Serbian Ministry of Interior personnel in 1999, have never been prosecuted.  The U.S. government cannot accept that the murderers of three of its citizens go unpunished.”

Garry Robbins, U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission to the OSCE, July 5, 2012

“These three brothers were not afforded the opportunity to defend themselves in a court of law.

They were not given a fair and public trial. Paramilitaries, under the command of senior Ministry of Interior officials, denied them these rights and shot them in cold blood.”

“Eleven years after the discovery of their bodies, no one has been held accountable for their murders.  The chief suspects in the chain of command, including the camp commander, have never been charged.”

“The wall of silence in the Interior Ministry, which protects those who are widely believed to have ordered this and similar crimes, remains intact.”

Victoria Nuland, U.S. State Department Spokesperson, May 10, 2012

“The United States remains deeply concerned that, to date, no individuals have been convicted for the 1999 killings of U.S. citizens Agron, Ylli, and Mehmet Bytyqi.”

“Those who gave the orders, oversaw the killings, and ordered the subsequent cover-up have yet to be arrested and prosecuted.”

“We expect Serbian authorities to bring to justice all individuals at all levels who are responsible for their deaths without further delay. This also remains a high priority on our bilateral agenda with Serbia.”

Ambassador Michael C. Polt, July 2006

“[Serbian authorities should] solve this case rapidly, no matter where the evidence may lead, prosecute the perpetrators of this criminal act, and bring justice and closure to the Bytyqi family.”

Ambassador William Walker, March 2002

”I would think a lot more would be done to demand justice, to demand that officials in Belgrade have a serious investigation.”

Ambassador William Walker, July 2001

“I could only relate [to the family] that I, the father of three sons, could hardly imagine what it would be to lose one, far less three of my boys, in such a cruel and senseless manner.”

Senator Mitch McConnell, July 27, 2001

“This heinous crime should be of particular concern to all of us. . . .  I know my colleagues will agree that the murder of Americans overseas cannot go unpunished. I will continue to closely follow developments in this case[.]”

Senator John McCain, July 24, 2001

“I appreciate our government’s determination to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of the Bytyqi brothers, which Serbia’s Interior Minister has rightly called ‘an exceptionally serious crime,’ and hope the Serbian government’s pledge of full cooperation… is matched by a final accounting of their murder.”

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