[JURIST] A panel of three international judges in the ethnically-divided town of Mitrovica [municipality website, in Albanian] sentenced an ethnic Albanian man Friday to 40 years in prison for a 2001 bus bombing [UNMIK press release; CNN report] that killed 11 Serbs on a religious trip. Florim Ejupi was indicted [UNMIK press release, PDF] in 2005 on charges related to the bus bombing and the killings of two police officers in 2004. The district court convicted [Balkan Insight report] him on 11 counts of murder, as well as counts of attempted murder, terrorism, discrimination and unlawful possession of explosives. Reuters has more.
In 2000, the UN implemented a system of international judges and prosecutors [USIP report] aimed at keeping ethnic discrimination from affecting the judicial process, but the Kosovo Judges' Association expressed concern last month over the effectiveness of courts in the northern provinces [JURIST report] following Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia [text; JURIST report] earlier this year. Kosovo Serbs held protests in front of the courthouse after the declaration, and for several days in March, hundreds of Serbs took control of a UN courthouse [JURIST report] in Mitrovica in the northern part of the country. Serbs consider the territory of Kosovo to be Serbia's historic and religious heartland [advocacy website] and the Serbian government in Belgrade has insisted that Kosovo's declaration of independence is illegal under international law.