News 31 May 12

Serbia Releases Five Ethnic Albanians

Five Albanians from South Serbia arrested on suspicion of having committed war crimes in the 2001 conflict have been released.

Marija Ristic

Serbian authorities have released five ethnic Albanians from South Serbia arrested on May 4 on suspicion of having committed war crimes against Serbian civilians during the conflict in the ethnically mixed region in 2001.

The president of the municipality of Bujanovac, Jonuz Musliu, said that Eljhami Salihi, Mustafa Limani, Serif Abdiri, Nedir Sefedini i Sevdai Emurlahi had been released and the charges against them dropped.

The men were released on the basis of the Amnesty Law that the Serbian authorities signed after the conflict ended in South Serbia.

This rules out prosecuting people for terrorism or joint criminal enterprises in the municipalities of Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja in relation to acts carried out between January 1999 and May 2002.

Musliu added that three other men who were arrested at the same time, and charged with obstructing the police and the illegal possession of arms, are still in custody in the town of Vranje.

The conflict in South Serbia started in 2000 and lasted until 2001 with the aim of uniting the region to mainly Albanian Kosovo.

The ethnic Albanian guerilla unit disbanded in 2001 when the Yugoslav Army entered the demilitarized area near the border with Kosovo with the approval of NATO.

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