EULEX confirmed that Ranko Perenić and Đuro Slavuj were kidnapped by the KLA, and closed the investigations

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Source/Author: UNS, Jelena L. Petković
Source/Photo: Foto:Pixabay

BELGRADE, 8.12.2017. – For the first time, EULEX mission confirmed that journalists of Radio Pristina Ranko Perenić and Đuro Slavuj were detained by KLA members on August 21, 1998, and under the threat of weapons, were taken away in an unknown direction.  Since then, no one has seen or heard from them anymore.

Ranko’s wife Snezana Perenic is in shock.  A week ago, for the first time after 19 years, she officially received some kind of an information; a notification that the investigation was terminated. – I am in a complete shock. I could not believe what I was reading. I just thought: it’s impossible that this is the end? I won’t allow it! I want to complain.

Then I read that everything I heard was true, that it was known who abducted him, and that they admitted that they did not do anything. And finally, I see that the deadline for appeal is three days, I realize that I do not know how to write it, and I cannot even send it to the address of the Special Prosecutor’s Office in Kosovo, pulled myself together and asked Savo Štrbac from Veritas for help, whom I met by pure coincidence, “says for the UNS Snežana Perenić, who wakes up every day with the hope that her husband is alive.

Unlike the Perenić family, Đuro Slavuj’s family didn’t receive any information about the termination of the investigation.

A letter after four years

The decision to reject a criminal report came from Pristina four years since it was been signed by former prosecutor Maurizio Salustro (signed on October 23, 2013), and after the UNS intensified the investigation about murdered and missing journalists in Kosovo in the last year, and conducted numerous interviews with representatives of international missions.

Salustro, in his 2013 decision, explains that “although it is probable that the status of victims as missing persons after many years indicates that they are no longer alive, there is an absolute lack of evidence regarding what happened. Moreover, the identity of the alleged kidnappers is unknown, and there are no reasonable prospects that their identities will be revealed through additional investigative measures. There are no investigative conclusions suggesting further investigative actions … Therefore, the police report must be rejected. ”

At the very beginning of this document, Salustro presents the fact that “based on available information, on August 21, 1998, the victims went to Velika Hoča in order to perform a work-related task. On their way back, they were intercepted by an armed group of people wearing the KLA markings who threatened them with weapons, and took them in an unknown direction.”

– Logically, it is impossible to know in advance that there will not be any evidence that will lead to abductors, particularly because they were taken away by members of the KLA, and not by some unknown group. I say this, because for each area, even for the Orahovac area, it was known who was responsible for which zone. If they cannot find the abductors, they can easily and quickly find out who was commanding that zone – says Snežana Perenić. In this circumstances, it is doubtful whether the investigation was carried at all. According to all the rules of practice, the prosecution was supposed to talk with family members, however, Snežana Perenić, who lived with her two young boys in Kosovo Polje, never received such a call.

On the other hand, she did everything she could to find out the truth. She went to Orahovac several times, talked with the locals, and the information that she obtained could have taken the prosecution in some direction. – The man who was on the post that day told me they saw from the hill that the KLA was taking Ranko and Đuro, but they were too far to recognize the faces of abductors. I heard that they were in the Mala Hoča camp, but there were so many members of the KLA under arms, that the Serbian police did not dare to enter. Searching for my spouse, I also came to the politician Adem Demaci, at that time very influential among the KLA, who told me: “If by God’s will they were abducted by the regular KLA forces, they would be released, but if they were captured by rogue units, there is no hope,” says Ranko Perenić’s wife.

Snežana Perenić contacted all international organizations, including the then head of the U.S. diplomatic mission in Kosovo, Shaun Byrnes, whom she invited to her home.

– Then I also called our neighbors Albanians who told him that my husband did not hide anything from anyone, that he was doing his job, and that they would go with him to talk to the main commanding KLA in the Orahovac area. Couple of days later, the bombing started. Burns was asking about us, and when we exiled, he called my brother in Indjija. In the last call he asked him: It’s been a long time. Are you still hoping?

They did not get lost

Journalists of Radio Pristina Đuro Slavuj and Ranko Perenić were kidnapped on the road Velika Hoča – Zočište when they headed towards the Sveti Vrači Monastery to make a report about the return of the abducted monks. The car in which they were, Blue Zastava 128, was never found.

The decision to terminate the investigation was handed over to Snežana Perenić  on November 28, 2017, through the Prosecutor’s Office for War Crimes of the Republic of Serbia. She returned the complaint in the same way. – In May 1998, the first kidnappings started. We talked about it, but he was not afraid, because he was not guilty of anything to anyone. Ranko knew the terrain knew as the back of his palm.  That’s why it’s not true they got lost. They searched for a shortcut. Orahovac residents told me that Ranko and Djuro stopped at the store that day, inquired how to get to Zočište, because the police told them earlier that the fighting was in progress, so the main road was blocked. An elderly guy came to the store and told them to turn to the property of the former Orvin factory, into the vineyards in the middle of which there is a macadam road leading to the houses used by the workers of that company – says Snežena Perenić.

Life in harsh conditions

Snežana Perenić lives in harsh conditions with her family in Batajnica. The struggle for the truth was paid by her health. She recalls that, even after the kidnapping, she was visited by the then Minister of Information, and today the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic. – He came to ask how are we, and offered help. We said that we do not need anything, just to find Ranko. But they did not find him – says Snežana Perenić.