[JURIST] Serbian prosecutors charged 17 former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) Friday for war crimes committed during the war in Kosovo [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. The charges include [B92 report] rape, murder, mutilation, and torture resulting from the kidnapping of 159 Serb civilians and others in Gnjilane, Kosovo in 1999. The charges allege the death of 52 Serbs, Roma, and ethnic Albanians. Nine of the 17 KLA members are reportedly in custody while the rest remain at large, including those who ordered the acts. The prosecutor asked for an extended detention for the nine currently in custody, who were arrested during a raid [B92 report] in December 2008, while the remaining members will be tried in absentia.
On Thursday, Bulgarian officials released [press release] former KLA leader Agim Ceku after he was arrested [press release; JURIST report] at the Macedonian border on Tuesday pursuant to an international arrest warrant for Serbian war crimes charges. Ceku, formerly the prime minister of Kosovo, was charged with involvement in the murder of 669 Serbs and 18 others during the Kosovo war. Serbian Minister of Interior Ivica Dacic stated that Ceku's release will "seriously hamper relations between Serbia and Bulgaria," concluding that the countries need to cooperate in the fight against war crimes and terrorism.