news 24 Sep 12

Kosovo Ruling Party MPs to Testify in Bllaca Trial

Two PDK parliamentarians, Azem Syla and Fatmir Xhelili, have been summoned to testify in "Bllaca 2", the second trial of the self-styled intelligence service assassin, Nazim Bllaca.

Fatmir Aliu
BIRN
Pristina

A Kosovo court has summoned Azem Syla, a former supreme commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA,  and Faitmir Xhelili, former head of the crime directorate of the defunct Kosovo Secret Agency, SHIK, to testify at the trial of Nazim Bllaca, a self-proclaimed former SHIK assassin.

The two are due to appear at Pristina’s District Court in mid-October to confirm the alibi of one of the defendants, Sadik Abazi, and explain their role within the disbanded organization.

Both Syla and Xhelili are members of parliament from the ranks of the ruling Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, led by Prime Minister Hashim Thaci.

Kosovo was shaken by Bllaca's revelations in 2009, when he claimed he had murdered an Albanian collaborator with the Serbian authorities in 1999.

Former KLA fighter Fahredin Gashi was later sentenced to 18 years' jail following Bllaca’s testimony.

In a second trial, known as “Bllaca 2”, six defendants, Sadik Abazi, Shaban Syla, Bekim Syla, Driton Hajdari, Fahredin Uka and Fahredin Gashi, are charged - based on Bllaca’s testimony - with killing Salih Gashi and with two counts of attempted murder.

Gashi was shot dead on June 15, 1999, apparently because he was an activist with the PDK's rival, the Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK.

The LDK, then led by Kosovo’s first president, Ibrahim Rugova, provided the main political opposition to the PDK.

During the course of the trial, Bllaca mentioned Azem Syla and Fatmir Xhelili as two of the top three figures in the SHIK.

Sadik Abazi’s laywer, Ilaz Kadolli, told the court that Bllaca’s claim that he had killed “Ibush Kllokoqi with Azem Syla’s pistol” needed to be proven by the witness himself.

The ex-director of SHIK, Kadri Veseli, testifying in the "Bllaca 2" trial, told the court that neither Bllaca nor any of the six suspects in the case had ever been agents for the service.

He also insisted that none of his agents had ever been instructed to kill people.

Veseli was said to have been appointed to run SHIK by Hashim Thaci in March 1999 and reported only to him.

Veseli told the court that the agency had at one time mustered 92 workers, "including technical staff".

SHIK emerged from the ranks of the KLA following the end of the war with Serbia in 1999, and then became the intelligence arm of the PDK.

The agency announced in 2008 that it had officially disbanded.

According to a leaked classified report by the EU law and order mission, EULEX, the PDK pursued a strategy of killing its political opponents in the LDK after the end of the conflict in Kosovo.

The report, which focused on determining whether a pattern of selecting victims existed, highlighted a breakdown of different crimes, murders, attempted murders and grievous assaults, mainly from 1999 to 2001. Some occurred as late as 2003.

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