Kosovo court retries parliamentary deputy on war crimes charges

[JURIST] A Kosovo court on Wednesday began trial of three former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) members accused of committing war crimes during the 1998-1999 Balkan ethnic conflicts [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. The trial, being held in the Kosovo's District Court of Prishtina, involves a mixed team made up of local and European Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) [official website] authorities. Former KLA commander and current parliamentary deputy Rrustem Mustafa [official website] along with two KLA soldiers, Latif Gashi and Nazif Mehmeti, are accused of torturing five ethnic Albanians detained near the town of Podujevo. Kosovar Prime Minister Hashim Thaci [official website], also a former KLA member, commented [AFP report] that the government is confident that the men will be acquitted. In 2003, the three were convicted of murder based on the same events, but the ruling was overturned [B92 report] by the Kosovo Supreme Court in 2005.

EULEX reached [JURIST report] its first guilty verdict in March, after formally beginning operations [JURIST report] last December. Also in March, the trial of two Serbian defendants was blocked [JURIST report] by hundreds of Serbian protesters and has been postponed indefinitely. Kosovo officially declared its independence from Serbia [JURIST report] in February 2008, and its new constitution [text] went into effect [JURIST report] that June. Kosovo's status as an independent nation has been recognized by over 60 countries, but Serbia has officially condemned the declaration [text, JURIST report] as illegal, citing UN Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999) [text]. China and Russia, both members of the UN Security Council, support Serbia's position on Kosovo.

 

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.