Kosovo politican acquitted on war crimes charges

[JURIST] Kosovo politician and parliamentarian Fatmir Limaj [JURIST news archive] was acquitted [verdict, PDF] Wednesday on charges of war crimes allegedly committed during the 1998-99 Kosovo war with Serbia [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. Limaj allegedly ordered the torture and killings of Serbian detainees in 1999. He and three co-defendants were tried [JURIST report] and acquitted before a panel of two EU judges and one Kosovo judge as part of the European Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) [official website]. Six others were acquitted last month. Much of the prosecution's case relied upon the testimony of a former member of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), who was found hanged in September in an apparent suicide. The prosecution plans to appeal [press release].

EULEX has been investigating war crimes [JURIST report] since December 2008. An influential figure in the ruling Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) [official website, in Albanian], Limaj was excluded from a cabinet position following international pressure not to include corrupt officials but was elected into the Kosovo parliament. Limaj is an ex-member of the KLA and is viewed as a liberator by many ethnic Albanians. In 2005, Limaj was acquitted of similar charges by a war crimes tribunal in The Hague because of insufficient evidence. An EU judge in September placed Limaj under house arrest [JURIST report] while awaiting trial. In September, EULEX charged 10 former members of the KLA [JURIST report], including Limaj, with war crimes for their actions during the 1998-1999 war in Kosovo.

 

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