First EU Kosovo trial blocked by Serbian protesters

[JURIST] More than 100 Serbian judges, prosecutors, and legal professionals prevented the opening of the first EU-backed trial [EULEX press release, PDF] in Kosovo by protesting in front of the Mitrovica [OSCE profile, PDF; JURIST news archive] court house Monday. A panel of three judges had been set to preside over a criminal case involving two Serbian defendants. As Serbia and Kosovo's Serbian population have refused to accept Kosovo's independence, the demonstration was intended to bar the EU from holding trial [B92 report] in Kosovo except under UN laws. The trial court was established by European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) [official website], an EU mission designed to guide Kosovo toward independence in accordance with the Rule of Law. Citing security concerns, the court has not yet rescheduled the trial.

The EULEX formally began operations [JURIST report] in December. Kosovo controversially seceded from Serbia [JURIST report] in February 2008, and its new constitution [text] went into effect [JURIST report] in June. Kosovo's Declaration of Independence from Serbia was met with support from the EU, the US, and from many other countries. Serbia formally condemned the secession [text, JURIST report], citing its illegality under UN Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999). In response to the issuance of Kosovo's Declaration of Independence last March, violent protests in front of the Mitrovica courthouse led to a period of military law [JURIST reports] in the country.



 

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