Washington—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, today delivered the following remarks on the House floor in support of H.Con.Res.32, a measure calling for justice for United States citizens Ylli, Agron, and Mehmet Bytyqi, who were murdered in the Republic of Serbia in July 1999:
"I want to start by thanking Mr. Zeldin for authoring this resolution.
"This measure is one particularly close to my heart.
"I have, in my career in Congress, I have had long dealings with the Albanian community both in the Balkans and in America. So this one really hurts. I know the family of these three brothers who were murdered.
"Ylli, Agron and Mehmet Bytyqi were three brothers from New York State who were killed, execution-style, by Serbian officials after they mistakenly crossed the unmarked Serbia-Kosovo border. Their bodies were discovered—with their hands bound behind their backs—in a mass grave in 2001.
"Serbian President Vucic promised me three years ago that his government would bring the murderers to justice. But this hasn’t happened. In fact, there isn’t even a serious criminal investigation underway. This is appalling. And sadly, it’s part of a pattern we see with Serbian war criminals responsible for crimes against the people of Kosovo.
"The Bytyqi brothers are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to post conflict justice in Serbia.
"And we had a hearing on the Foreign Affairs Committee three weeks ago on this very topic.
"Approaching three years ago, the Belgrade-based Humanitarian Law Center released a dossier detailing the murder of nearly 1,000 Kosovars, killed by Serbs in Kosovo, then transported to Serbia and dumped in a mass grave. The US government has raised this atrocity with the Serbian war crimes prosecutor, but – once again – no one has been held accountable. Although I believe with all my heart that Serbian authorities know who is responsible for this.
"Let’s be clear: If Serbia wants to join the West and its institutions, they must deal with their past and prosecute those responsible for war crimes. I encourage our EU friends to hold Serbia to this standard when considering Serbia’s candidacy.
"Today’s resolution makes it clear that Serbia must fully investigate the Bytyqi brothers’ case and bring justice to the families of these murdered New Yorkers. Their family currently lives in New York in Mr. Zeldin’s district. It also calls on the U. S. government to encourage and assist a successful prosecution of the case.
"I strongly support this measure and want to thank Mr. Zeldin for his excellent work and partnership with me in trying to push the Serbian government to find justice for these New Yorkers."
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