.contact us |.about us
News > Lifestyle News ...
Kosovo teenager hunts family massacre suspect
( 2003-09-20 15:10) (Agencies)

An 18-year-old Kosovo woman has traveled to Canada in hopes of stopping an asylum request by one of the men accused in the massacre of her mother, two brothers and 11 other family members.

Saranda Bogojevci, the oldest of five children, was shot when a Serbian death squad killed 14 members of her extended family in an ethnic cleansing operation in Podujevo, 22 miles north of Pristina, the Kosovo capital, in 1999.

All the victims were Albanian Kosovar women and children. The youngest was a two-year-old boy. The men in the family were in hiding at the time, expecting that Serbian gunmen would be looking for them.

Bogojevci, then 13, and four of her cousins survived miraculously, making headlines around the world.

She now lives in England but was in Toronto for a week in mid-September looking like any other trend-conscious teen-aged traveler.

The reason for her trip, however, was anything but casual. She wants to convince the Canadian government not to give asylum to one of the Serb paramilitary troops that she believes nearly wiped out her family.

This is how she remembers the massacre:

"It happened in my neighbor's garden," the slim, dark-haired teen-ager told Reuters, trying to stay matter of fact, while walking in downtown Toronto. "We were kind of moving all the time. In that house I went to sleep. The soldiers came into the house while we were staying there. And they ordered us out of the house and they were moving us around our neighbor's garden. Then we were taken to the street, near a police station.

"While we were out in the street my aunty got separated. When we came back inside the garden, she was there. She was crying and the soldiers were shouting. She was talking back to them and the only thing I could understand in Serbian was: 'They are only children!'. They took us behind the house and one of the soldiers just shot her."

The massacre took place four days after the beginning of NATO (news - web sites) air raids, which were aimed at halting the Serb campaign of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo.

In 2002 two men, Sasa Cvjetan, 28 and Dejan Demirovic, 29, were indicted in the southern Serb town of Prokuplje and charged with murdering Saranda Bogojevci's family. Their trial was to be the first war crimes trial to address atrocities of Serbian forces in Kosovo.


After the judge in the trial was threatened, the case was moved to Belgrade. In the meantime Bogojevci and her four cousins, all badly wounded in the massacre, had been taken to a hospital in Pristina. After the Serb withdrawal from Kosovo they were transported to England for more medical treatment.

They all now live in Manchester.

Earlier this year Bogojevci and her cousins arrived in Belgrade to testify at the trial of Sasa Cvjetan.

"For a few years after it happened I didn't have idea where this people were. I just thought that they may be in Serbia or somewhere around there. But I didn't know their whereabouts. Later on, when I found out that two men were to be charged in Serbian court, I decided to be a witness and to go to Belgrade."

When she saw Cvjetan in a Belgrade courtroom two months ago, Saranda said: "I looked at him, but he didn't look at me."

The other accused, Dejan Demirovic, evaded arrest, and entered Canada illegally. He is seeking asylum in Canada.

Demirovic was arrested in Windsor, Ontario, in January, charged with illegal entry, and released on bail five months later. In September in Toronto, his Refugee Board hearing was postponed to January 2004, dealing another blow to Bogojevci.

She had come to Toronto to confront him and urge the Canadian government to deny him asylum. She never had the chance.

"I want to know why the Canadian government failed to sent Demirovic to Serbia, to face the justice," said Bogojevci, who speaks Albanian and English but still has to learn the language of Canadian bureaucracy.

"I cannot believe that Canada can let somebody like Demirovic walk freely."

Demirovic's neighbors and friends in Windsor told Reuters he is "a person who socializes easily" and expressed disbelief that he could have been responsible for such horrible killings.

Saranda Bogojevci will be back in Canada in January to try to dispel that impression.

  Today's Top News   Top Lifestyle News
+ADB chief: China should be cautious in RMB liberalization
( 2003-09-20)
+Flood prevention work in full swing as more rain expected
( 2003-09-20)
+Daily SARS reporting resumes
( 2003-09-20)
+EU official: EU-China co-operation promising
( 2003-09-20)
+Gov't to offer 6b yuan for school refurbishments
( 2003-09-20)
+Rising water levels fail to drown beauty of Yangtze
( 2003-09-20)
+Kosovo teenager hunts family massacre suspect
( 2003-09-20)
+TV fans tap into torrent of shows online
( 2003-09-20)
+Bill Gates gives $51 million to New York schools
( 2003-09-19)
+Couple kept 244 dogs and 16 birds at home
( 2003-09-19)
  Go to Another Section  
  Article Tools  
        .contact us |.about us
  Copyright By chinadaily.com.cn. All rights reserved