16 years on, kidnappers of Serb journalists still not found

BELGRADE -- August 21 marks the 16th anniversary since the kidnapping in 1998 of two Serb journalists near Orahovac, in Kosovo.

The Serbian Government Office for Kosovo issued a statement on this occasion to warn that the kidnappers of Radio Priština's Đuro Slavuj and Ranko Pereneć have not been found yet.

Those who, for the second consecutive year, removed a memorial set up by the Association of Journalists of Serbia (UNS) and the Association of Journalists of Kosovo and Metohija (DNKiM) for their missing colleagues, have not been found either, the office said on Wednesday.

The memorial was erected by the road from Velika Hoča to Zočište in the Orahovac municipality, w where Slavuj and Perenić went missing.

The office urged the international community and relevant authorities in the province to again launch an investigation and find the full truth, adding that this and other crimes against journalists in Kosovo must not be forgotten or remain unpunished.

"The kidnappings and murders of Ljubomir Knežević - a journalist of Priština-based Jedinstvo daily and Politika correspondent who was kidnapped on May 6, 1999 near Vučitrn - and Aleksandar Simović - a journalist and translator who went missing 15 years ago on August 21, 1999 in Priština - remain unsolved. Parts of Simović's remains have been found in the village of Obrinje near Glogovac," the statement said.

Marjan Melonasi, a journalist of the Serbian-language news desk at Radio Kosovo, went missing on September 9, 2000 in Priština; photojournalist Momir Stokuća was killed in his family house in central Priština on September 21, 1999; and Mail Buljević, another media professional, was kidnapped by the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) near a refugee center in Priština on June 25, 1999, the Office also said.

Shedding light on these crimes and finding and punishing the perpetrators would be a significant step towards restoring the trust in the international community, the provincial institutions and rule of law in the province, giving hope that such crimes will never happen again in Kosovo, the statement said.