Washington, DC— Rep. Eliot Engel, Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, yesterday called upon the U.S. State Department to seek justice in the case of the Bytyqi brothers, three American citizens who were murdered in Serbia in July 1999 during an attempt to save the lives of a Roma family. Rep. Engel’s question to Jonathan Moore, State Department Director of the Office of South Central Europe, at a hearing of the House Subcommittee on Europe and Eurasia, urged continued efforts to seek prosecutions of the perpetrators and asked if Congress can help press for justice in the case.

The transcript is as follows:

Congressman Eliot Engel: I’ve been deeply concerned that to date no individuals have been convicted for the brutal killing of three United States citizens, the Bytyqi brothers: Agron, Ylli, and Mehmet. As you know they were helping to save the lives of a Roma family from Kosova where they were unlawfully detained by Serbian authorities and suffered an execution style murder. It’s a long time ago, we want to move on, but eleven years after the discovery of their bodies no one has been held accountable for their killing and the chief suspects in the chain of command, including the camp commander, have never been charged.

So, what is the status of their case and can you describe the State Department’s efforts to press Serbia to bring the killers to justice? Is there anything more that Congress can do to help press Serbia to achieve justice for the Bytyqi family? I just meet with the fourth Bytyqi brother, who is in New York. Just a few weeks ago I sat down with him.

Mr. Jonathan Moore: Thank you Congressman. This is a case which disturbs us greatly, the arrest and then murder of three American citizens. We also have met with Fatos Bytyqi, the surviving brother who lives in the United States. We have engaged at this level, at the most senior, bilateral levels including by Secretary Clinton when she was in Belgrade last fall. Our Deputy Secretary of State raised it directly with Prime Minister Dačić and he’s also Interior Minister of Serbia. We continue to call upon these authorities in Belgrade to investigate this case and to prosecute it.

We are not aware of direct progress. There has been no arrests, there have been no arrests in this case yet.

Serbia is certainly very well aware that it is extremely high on our bilateral agenda. We want to see justice in this case, as in all cases of war crimes. This happens to say to involve, as you say, three American citizens, so it figures prominently in our bilateral agenda from that perspective as well, but unfortunately to this point we have not received any information from the government or authorities of Serbia that that case is moving forward other than some investigations.

Congressman Eliot Engel: Well, let me conclude by saying that I think that this should continue to be pressed as is a real priority and I know that the Chairman would agree with me because we have discussed these issues a lot. These are three American citizens and we really demand answers for American citizens. Thank you, thank you Mr. Chairman.