The parents of the murdered young men in the “Panda” cafe in Pec demand that Vučić tell the truth
After 24 years of searching for the truth, the parents of the six young men killed in 1998 in the Panda café in Peć have no doubt that the killing of their children was decided at the top of the state. In 2013, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic fuelled their suspicions that Albanians did not commit the crime. Nevertheless, for six years they have been seeking in vain to see him, and they have also been asking him for a hearing because of the knowledge he has presented. The last request was sent on Friday.
In the “Panda” café, where the Peć High School students gathered, on 14 December 1998, two masked persons with automatic rifles killed Ivan Obradović (15), Vukota Gvozdenović (16), Svetislav Ristić (18) Zoran Stanojević (18) Ivan Radevic (24) and Dragan Trifovic (18), seriously injured Vlado Lončarevic (18) and slightly injured Mirsad Šabovic (34) and Nikola Rajovic (18).
Until 28 December 2013, the families of the murdered boys and the public were convinced that the crime was committed by members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).
However, the then First Vice-President of the Government of Serbia and head of the Bureau for the Coordination of Security Services, Aleksandar Vučić, said in the program “Teška reč” on TV Pink: “The crime in ‘Panda’ was not committed by Albanians, as we believed until now. The public will be appalled when the truth is revealed.”
Vucic later told reporters that he was almost certain he knew what had happened in “Panda”, but that “there is no evidence” and that the Serbian investigating authorities could not be “proud” of the way they had conducted the investigation.
Lawyer Božo Prelević told BETA that the State Security Service told him “the same thing Aleksandar Vučić said in December 2013” about Panda when he was a member of the Coordination Centre for the South of Serbia.
“And Vucic’s knowledge comes from the State Security Service,” Prelević said.
According to him, it was already known in the early 2000s that Albanians had nothing to do with the crime in Panda.
“Those boys who were killed were not guilty of anything and were not a special target. “They were killed in order to cause even more international intolerance,” Prelević said.
Parents have been seeking admission to the president of Serbia for five years; they have no dilemma that the state leadership decided on the massacre of their children.
Parents of the murdered young men say they have approached the President more than 10 times since 2017 about his findings and each time it has been in vain.
“Since 5 September 2017, we have written more than 10 times to the Serbian President’s Office asking for an interview with President Vucic, but we have never received a reply,” Ljubomir Ristic, the father of the murdered Svetislav (18), told the Beta news agency.
He stated that since 17 September 2017, the families of the murdered boys had also applied for admission to the Organised Crime Prosecutor’s Office on seven occasions, but had been refused each time.
“Given that we have had no answers from the TOK to our requests, all indications are that nothing has been done and that the investigation has been stopped,” Ristić said.
He adds that the Prosecutor’s Office for Organised Crime (TOK) has also been asked to question Vučić because of the information he has publicly disclosed about the crime in ‘Panda’.
“But this too was not accepted,” he told Beta Ristić.
Request from June this year
“Mr. President, you know and we parents know that the murder of our sons in the ‘Panda’ café in Peć was a matter of state, decided at the top of the state. This is state terrorism par excellence. We would like to point out that there are other reasons for our admission, which we will present in our conversation with you, so that the authority in charge of the procedure will prosecute the crime after almost 24 years”, reads one of the applications for admission to the president of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić submitted by parents on 6 June 2022.
Lazar Obradović, whose son Ivan (15) died in front of his eyes, tells Beta that there is no other truth than that the crime in “Panda” was committed by the state.
He believes that there is no desire to find out who ordered, organised and carried out the massacre in the “Panda” café, as it is “clearly orchestrated from one centre”.
“All the authorities have treated the massacre of our children in the same way. It is obvious that it is orchestrated from one centre and that there is no desire to find out who the instigators, organisers and perpetrators of the massacre are,” says Obradović.
It also states that the parents have so far spoken to dozens of state officials, both from the police and other state bodies, and that no one has ever told them that the crime was committed by Albanians, but by Serbs.
He added that they expected the President of Serbia to inform them of all the knowledge he had about the “Panda” case. He claims that both the state services and Vucic know who ordered, organised and killed the young men.
“Both the state services and Vucic know who ordered, organised and killed the children in ‘Panda’. It is unacceptable that the truth has been hidden for more than 24 years and that the President of Serbia refuses to talk to us.
On Friday, the parents again contacted the President’s office. They say they will radicalise their protest if they are not interviewed as soon as possible and if they are not given firm assurances that the investigation into the murder of their children will be concluded.
And Zvonko Gvozdenovic, the father of the murdered Vukota (16), believes that the state is persistently trying to cover up its own crime.
“The prosecution has so far heard 42 witnesses. When the investigation started in May 2016, we had several discussions with the Acting Prosecutor, and after each meeting we realised that we were being increasingly led and misled by the State. Since 2017, the prosecution has refused any communication with the parents,” Gvozdenović told Beta.
The arrested Albanians were released due to lack of evidence
A few days after the massacre at the Panda café, police arrested a group of local Albanians who allegedly organised the attack on Panda. Nikola Šainović, then Deputy Prime Minister in charge of Kosovo, announced that the “Panda case” had been solved.
“I said at the time that the ‘Panda case’ was solved because the police told me so,” Šainović told Beta earlier.
The former head of the Peć SUP Boro Vlahović previously told the daily newspaper “Danas” that the State Security Service was responsible for the “Panda case”, since it was a criminal offense of terrorism, which “did not exclude the work of public security”. ” at the discovery of the perpetrators.
“We worked intensively from public security to identify the perpetrators, but when, after a few days, members of the State Security Service arrested a group of Albanians who had allegedly organised and committed the crime in the ‘Panda’ café, public security stopped working on the case. When the State Security takes over something and announces that the case is solved, it is not the practice for the Public Security to continue working on the same case,” explained Vlahović, who was questioned by the TOK.
The group of arrested Albanians was released after months of detention in Leskovac because there was no evidence of their involvement in the crime.
TOK has not verified whoever submitted the “OVK announcement” to RTS.
A few days before the massacre, RTS read two nights in a row a “statement” by the KLA announcing attacks on places where Serbian youth gather.
As Beta learns, the Organised Crime Prosecutor’s Office, which is leading the investigation, did not check who passed the “announcement” to RTS and who ordered the reading of the same information two nights in a row./KoSSev, Beta/