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Bytyqi family in Washington to seek justice in Serbian murders

Fatose Bytyqi, center, speaks about the unresolved killings

Fatose Bytyqi, center, speaks about the unresolved killings of his brothers, American citizens Ylli, Agron and Mehmet Bytyqi, in Serbia 15 years ago, at a news conference in Southampton on July 7, 2014. At left is former U.S. Ambassador Robert L. Barry, and at right, Rep. Tim Bishop. Credit: Gordon M. Grant

Washington - The Bytyqi family is keeping the pressure up on Serbia to bring the killers of three family members 15 years ago to justice, driving from their home in Hampton Bays to Washington for meetings today at Vice President Joe Biden's office and at the State Department.

The object of the visit, the Bytyqis said, was to make sure that when Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic visits Washington next month that U.S. officials press him to make progress on the unresolved case of the 1999 Serbian execution of Ylli, 25; Agron, 23, and Mehmet, 21.

"We are encouraged to hear the vice president will bring up the case directly," said Praveen Madhiraju, the Bytyqi family attorney, and that the Serbian failure to resolve it is "an issue that impedes bilateral relations with the United States, as it has for the last several years."

Fatose Bytyqi, who has taken more than 50 trips to Serbia to push his cause, said he was disappointed Vucic has broken promises to resolve the killings. His brothers had gone to fight for the Kosovo Liberation Army in Serbia and Albania in April 1999. Days after the conflict ended they were arrested for an illegal border crossing into Serbia and disappeared from the jail.

Their bodies were found in July 2001 in a mass grave, and it was determined they had been blindfolded, bound and shot near a police training camp in July 1999.

The Bytyqis and their advisers say evidence shows the main suspect in ordering the killings was the police camp director Goran Radosavljevic, but they complain that he has not been charged or isolated from interfering in the case and intimidating witnesses.

Joining Fatose were his father Ahmet, mother Bahrije and brother Ilir.

Ahmet Bytyqi said he told the officials he met with today that "I have confidence in the United States government that it is going to do the job it's supposed to do." His wife said she thanked the officials for their work.

The press offices of Biden and the State Department did not respond to queries about the visits.

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), like the incumbent he defeated, Democrat Tim Bishop of Southampton, is backing the Bytyqis. He issued a statement earlier this year calling for Serbia to "finally ensure justice in the Bytyqi case."

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