- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 14, 2001

NIS, Yugoslavia — Documents on the bodies of three men found in a mass grave in eastern Serbia indicate they were U.S. citizens of ethnic-Albanian origin, an official said yesterday.
However, a forensic examination will be required to verify their identity, said the official, a member of a forensics team investigating the grave in Petrovo Selo.
The mass grave was discovered recently about 120 miles east of the capital, Belgrade, and has been linked to Slobodan Milosevic's campaign to cover up Kosovo atrocities.
The former Yugoslav president was indicted by the U.N. war-crimes tribunal for atrocities carried out against non-Serbs in Kosovo and was extradited to the Netherlands-based court on June 28.
Papers found on the three men identify them as brothers — Agron, Mehmet and Yli Bytyqi — born in Chicago in 1978, 1976 and 1974 respectively, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The brothers lived in New York City and their mother and sister lived in Prizren in western Kosovo, the official said.
The southern Yugoslav province has been run by NATO since June 1999, when the alliance ended 78 days of airstrikes that punished Mr. Milosevic's regime for its crackdown on ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.
The bodies of the three men were lying atop a heap containing remains of 13 other ethnic Albanians in a ditch located on the fringes of a special police compound in Petrovo Selo, the official said. An adjacent grave contained 59 bodies, bringing the total at the site to 75.
The position of the three — the only ones who were blindfolded, their hands tied with wire — points to the likelihood that they were killed nearby. The men were dressed in civilian clothes and were shot at close range.
A Serbian court document dated June 27, 1999, also was found on the brothers, indicating they were sentenced to 15 days in jail for entering the country illegally. The document ordered them sent to a penitentiary in Prokuplje, just north of Kosovo province. The Belgrade-based office of the U.N. tribunal said it could not confirm the identity of the men.
A spokeswoman in the U.S. State Department's European-affairs office said that the United States "encourages the Serbian authorities to fully investigate the mass graves."
A report about the three men first appeared Wednesday in the Reporter weekly, which said they were arrested on the Kosovo-Serbian border.
The newspaper said the three Americans were fighting with pro-independence ethnic-Albanian rebels in the so-called "Atlantic Brigade," consisting of up to 400 men before they were executed by Serbian security forces.
Meanwhile, in the Croatian capital of Zagreb, a local court issued an warrant yesterday for an officer sought by the U.N. war-crimes tribunal in connection with atrocities against Serbs.

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