Mon. Jul 15th, 2024

The Hague Kosovo specialized prosecutor raids the ex-KLA commander’s residence.

By b0oua Mar 7, 2024

The residence of Sulejman Selimi, who had previously served as the commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army, was searched by authorities from the Specialized Chambers, which are situated in The Hague. The search lasted for several hours in Pristina.

Artan Qerkini, Mr. Selimi’s attorney, stated that the operation was carried out by order of the judge of the preliminary procedure. According to Artan Qerkini, it is believed that there may be evidence in Mr. Selimi’s home that is related to the obstruction of justice. However, the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office did not provide any specifics regarding the operation.

The Specialized Chambers did not provide any information regarding the operation, nor did they provide any details regarding the announcement that the former deputy prime minister of Kosovo, Hajredin Kuci, who was a member of the defense team of the former speaker of the parliament, Kadri Veseli, who was “contacted”

The Special Court, sometimes referred to as the Specialized Chambers, is responsible for hearing claims of war crimes perpetrated by individuals who were a part of the Kosovo Liberation Army in the past.

The allegations that were brought up in the report that was drafted in 2011 by the envoy of the Council of Europe, Dick Marty, led to the establishment of this organization in August of 2015. The report contains allegations that former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army were responsible for kidnappings, ill-treatment, extrajudicial killings, and in some instances, the forcible removal of human organs and their trafficking from Albania during and after the conflict in Kosovo.

But this particular matter has not been mentioned in any of the charges that have been brought against former members of the KLA up until this point.

Sali Mustafa, a former soldier of the Kosovo Liberation Army, was found guilty of murder and torture in a detention center during the conflict in Kosovo and received a sentence of 26 years in jail from the court in December 2022.

The legal proceedings against Hashim Thaci, the former president of Kosovo, and three other former senior political officials, Jakup Krasniqi, Kadri Veseli, and Rexhep Selimi, all of whom were former senior leaders of the Kosovo Liberation Army, began at the beginning of April of the previous year. They are all accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity. Individuals are accused of being persecuted, imprisoned, subjected to various brutal crimes, tortured, murdered, and having their bodies taken away against their will.

In the year 2023, there were at least four individuals who were taken into custody on suspicion of committing acts relating to “obstruction of justice.”

As part of the investigations being conducted by prosecutors into suspected obstructions of justice, the Kosovo Specialist Chambers in The Hague has revealed that it has authorized several raids and searches to be conducted in Kosovo this week.

During the course of the week, there were searches conducted at the residences of a number of former President Hashim Thaci’s associates and advisers. Thaci is currently being tried in The Hague for committing crimes against humanity and war crimes.

According to a statement that was issued by the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office late on Thursday night, the office is “conducting ongoing operations in Kosovo in an investigation focusing on offenses against the administration of justice.”

It did not provide any information regarding the suspected misbehavior or clarify who is the subject of the inquiry that is being conducted. Both police from the EU rule-of-law mission EULEX and officers from the Kosovo Police carried out the raids they were sent to.

Ekrem Kastrati, the mayor of the municipality of Malisheve/Malisevo, issued a statement on Friday morning stating that the municipality “received information that EULEX arrested the former mayor, Isni Kilaj.” This information was reported to have been obtained by the municipality.

Kilaj, a former commander of a unit in the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and a former head of the Malisheve/Malisevo branch of the opposition Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), which was formerly led by Thaci, was the target of one of the raids that were carried out on Thursday on the orders of the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office. The raid was reported to have taken place at Kilaj’s residence.

In his remark, Kastrati expressed his disapproval of the operation that was carried out against Kilaj. “As a municipality, we believe and are deeply convinced that the Kosovo Liberation Army’s war was a just war and above all else, it was a liberation war,” Kastrati said, demanding that the Specialist Chambers “halt this type of persecution of the liberation” and deal instead with killings of civilians by Serbian forces in the Malisheve/Malisevo municipality in 1998-99.

In an effort to verify Kilaj’s arrest and the allegations that have been brought against him, BIRN reached out to the office of the Specialist Prosecutor; but, by the time this article was published, the organization had not received any additional information.

Another raid took place on Wednesday at the residence of Ismail Syla, who had previously served as an advisor to Thaci.

Artan Cerkini, Syla’s attorney, expressed his disapproval of the operation by stating that “there isn’t any person of average intelligence who would keep something incriminating in their house knowing that they could easily be a target for raids.”

In accordance with the directives of the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office, the residence of Artan Behrami, who had previously served as a consultant to Thaci, was also searched on Tuesday. Lawyer Cerkini, who also represents Behrami, stated to the media that the raids violated the Constitution. In particular, he stated that “the houses of family members of Behrami were raided although this was not [written] in the order.”

Behrami accused the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office of engaging in political operations and of drawing parallels between the “genocide” done by Serbian forces in Kosovo and the actions of the Kosovo Liberation Army, stating that it was “as if the Kosovo Liberation Army committed a similar thing.”

During the course of Monday, there were further searches conducted at the residences of two additional former aides to Thaci. These individuals were Blerim Shala and Bashkim Smakaj, who had previously served as the director of the Kosovo Intelligence Agency.

Immediately following the nine-hour operation, Cerkini, who is also Smakaj’s attorney, stated to the media that “the court should be very careful when issuing an order for raids because it can violate human rights.”

According to him, the raid was carried out as a part of “an investigation the court has been conducting for some time on obstruction of justice.” On the other hand, he maintained that it was a violation of the constitutional rights and privacy of his client.

Furthermore, in February of this year, the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office issued an order to conduct a search warrant at the residence of Adil Behramaj, who was also a former adviser to Thaci.

The Kosovo parliament established the Kosovo Specialist Chambers in 2015 in response to criticism from Kosovo’s Western partners. These friends considered that Kosovo’s own justice system was not rigorous enough to try matters involving the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and protect witnesses from intimidation. There was a pattern of witness tampering throughout previous cases that took place at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal.

According to the verdict handed out by the Specialist Chambers in May 2022, Hysni Gucati, the commander of the KLA War Veterans’ Organization, and Nasim Haradinaj, his deputy, were found guilty of engaging in obstruction of justice.

Ismet Bahtjari and Sabit Januzi, two additional males, entered not guilty pleas to the charge of intimidating witnesses in the proceedings against former KLA insurgents that took place at the Specialist Chambers as of the previous month.


By b0oua

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