ORAHOVAC - A memorial plaque to the missing Serb journalists, Djura Slavuj and Ranko Perenic, has been removed again in the vicinity of Orahovac in Kosovo-Metohija (KiM) where they were abducted in 1998.
Now there is only a hole at the site where the memorial plaque used to be, as the plaque was pulled out together with the concrete basis, KiM Radio reported on Sunday.
At the spot where the reporters were abducted, between the villages of Zociste and Orahovac, representatives of the Journalists' Association of Serbia set up a plaque reading “On August 21, 1998, the journalists went missing here. We are looking for them.”
This is the second time that the memorial plaque dedicated to the missing reporters has been removed in less than a year. The first time was in October 2012, and perpetrators have not been found, although the case was reported to the police and municipal officials.
Slavuj and Perenic went missing on their way to the monastery of Zociste, where they wanted to do a report on the return of the kidnapped monks. They accidentally took a wrong turn, and found themselves in the territory that was controlled by the Kosovo Liberation Army.
The car in which they were has never been found.
Marija Ristic BIRN, Belgrade
The memorial which was removed on Sunday was dedicated to Djuro Slavuj and Ranko Perenic, two Serbian journalists, who were abducted in 1998, allegedly by KLA members, on the road between the Kosovo towns of Orahovac and Zociste.
“Destroying monuments to kidnapped and missing journalists is a measure of media freedom in a society that obviously doesn’t want to deal with the fact that innocent people suffered despite doing their job in a dignified manner,” the Serbian Association of Journalists (UNS) and the Association of Journalists from Kosovo and Metohija, said in a letter.
The associations said that they hoped that a new monument would be installed.
The memorial said in both Serbian and Albanian: “Here on August 21, 1998, two journalists, Djuro Slavuj and Ranko Perenic, went missing. We are looking for them. UNS.”
It was only installed in August this year on the 15th anniversary of their abduction.
In 2012, journalists also put up a memorial but it was removed after a month.
Slavuj and Perenic were abducted when they went to do a report on the return of the monks to the Zociste monastery. According to UNS, they were in an area controlled by Kosovo fighters. Their bodies and their blue Zastava car was never found.
The journalists’ associations also called on the EU rule-of-law mission, EULEX and Kosovo police to “urgently find the perpetrators and reveal motives for the destruction of the monument”.
In 1998, between July 11 and July 28, the KLA attacked and occupied the town of Orahovac and its surrounding villages - Retimlje, Opterusa, Zociste and Velika Hoca - in western Kosovo.
During the operation, 47 people were killed, while over 100 Serbs and Roma were kidnapped during and after it.
Sixty of those kidnapped were later freed by the Red Cross.
The remains of the victims were found in 2005, in two mass graves in Kosovo.
The ‘Orahovac 1998’ case was first investigated by the Hague Tribunal but no charges were filed. Later, the case was handed over to the UN mission in Kosovo, which subsequently transferred it to EULEX.
EULEX launched an investigation but in February this year, a court in the town of Prizren acquitted seven ethnic Albanians of terrorising Serb villagers and forcing them from their homes.
The Serbian war crimes prosecutor’s office also investigated the case, but due to lack of evidence against one of the suspects, it was dropped.
Source: Balkaninsight / InSerbia / UNHCR / de-construct.net / Tanjug