Summary: Belgrade court issues first judgment awarding compensation to victims of war crimes in Kosovo

Belgrade, Serbia, April 2016: The First Basic Court in Belgrade has delivered a judgment obliging the Republic of Serbia to pay compensation totalling 25.9 million dinars (approximately £170,000) to 24 close relatives of 14 women and children who were killed in front of their own homes in Podujevo, Kosovo, in March 1999 by members of the Ministry of Interior unit “Scorpions”. SRT grantee Humanitarian Law Center represented the families of the victims.

On 28 March 1999, members of the “Scorpions” unit removed women and children from their homes in Podujevo and shot them with automatic rifles in the yard of the house of the Gashi family, killing Sala Bogujevci (39 years old), her sons Shpend (13) and Shpetim (10); Shefkate Bogujevci (43), her daughter Nora (15) and her mother-in-law Shehide (67); their cousin Nefise Llugaliu (55), her daughter-in-law Fezdrije (21), Fitnete Duriqi (36) and her four children – Dafina (9), Arber (7), Mimoza (4) and Albin (2); as well as her mother-in-law Isma (69). Five children – Saranda, Fatos, Jehona, Lirije and Genc Bogujevci – survived the shooting, having received severe injuries.

Five people were found guilty of committing these crimes in earlier criminal proceedings, but the victims’ families have had to engage in a long civil suit seeking reparation. This is the first judgment in Serbia awarding compensation on the basis of established responsibility of the Serbian state for crimes committed by its forces against Albanian civilians during the armed conflict in Kosovo. The state’s responsibility is founded on the provision of Article 172 of the Law on Contracts and Torts, according to which the state is liable for the damage caused to third persons by its organs, in the performance of their duties or in relation thereto.

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