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news 23 Nov 17

Kosovo Judge Orders Opposition MPs' Arrests

Arrest warrants have been issued for three opposition Vetevendosje MPs – Albin Kurti, Donika Kadaj-Bujupi and Albulena Haxhiu – for letting off tear gas in parliament in 2015, after all three failed to show up in court.

Die Morina
Albin Kurti at Parliament on Thursday | Photo: BIRN

A Kosovo judge clarified on Thursday that he had issued arrest warrants for three opposition Vetevendosje MPs, including Albin Kurti, after they failed to show up for their trial the day before for throwing tear gas in parliament.

Judge Beqir Kalludra of Pristina Basic Court confirmed to BIRN that he had signed the arrest warrant just before midday after the decision was made on Wednesday.

He did not specify whether the police had received the arrest warrant but said this was a matter of court procedure.

MPs Albin Kurti, Albulena Haxhiu and Donika Kadaj-Bujupi all failed to show up for their trial on Wednesday. They are accused of letting off tear gas cannisters in parliament in 2015. A fourth MP, Faton Topalli, also from Vetevendosje, duly appeared in court on Wednesday.

Police said they had checked Kurti’s and Kadaj-Bujupi’s home addresses but did not find anyone there.

It was not the first time the MPs had disobeyed a summons to attend court.

A court issued an arrest warrant for Kurti in April for the same reason. However, it was suspended because Kurti was then the candidate of Vetevendosje to become Prime Minister ahead of the general elections in Kosovo in June.

The opposition MPs let off tear gas in parliament in protest against plans to ratify a controversial deal border with neighbouring Montenegro and establish an autonomous association of Serbian-majority municipalities.

After the court issued warrants for the three MPs, Vetevendosje leader Visar Ymeri pointed out that current Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj took part in the same protest action.

“What about PM? ... Why doesn’t he talk? What does he think today? Did we do any mistake when we protested together? Is he today against the joint protest we had yesterday? Does he think today that the agreement [on the Serbian municialities] and on [border] demarcation should have passed?” he asked on Facebook.

“We demand an end to the persecution of our deputies. Such actions aiming to intimidate or hinder Vetevendosje's activity will always be ineffective,” a statement by the party said.

Vetevendosje also accused Judge Beqir Kalludra of being partial and of being" a zealous servant of crime".

In Novmber 2015, despite then being the subject of an arrest warrant, Kurti attended a rally and addressed protesters from the stage.

Kurti was then held for 30 days in prison after riot police detained him when they stormed the Vetevendosje party’s headquarters, clashing with its supporters. Around 100 opposition supporters, some of whom who tried to prevent Kurti’s arrest, were also detained.

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