- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- All Balkan Countries
A classified report, parts of which have been leaked, says an organised strategy existed after the end of the Kosovo war to assassinate political rivals of the current ruling party.
Dozens of senior political figures and activists in the Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, were killed after the end of the Kosovo conflict for political reasons, according to a report by the EU's rule of law mission, EULEX, which has been leaked to the media.
The report suggests that the Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, pursued a strategy of killing its political opponents after the end of the war in Kosovo in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
The Kosovo daily “Koha Ditore” on Thursday published excerpts of the report compiled by a EULEX investigator, Gary Fainsworth.
These highlight a breakdown of different crimes, murders, attempted murders and grievous assaults, mainly from 1999 to 2001. Some occurred as late as 2003.
The document does not identify the suspects but focuses on determining whether a pattern of selecting victims existed.
EULEX has declined to comment on the leaked report to BIRN.
The report studied the cases of the murder of Xhemajl Mustafa, a founder of the LDK and a close associate of Kosovo's first president, Ibrahim Rugova.
It also studies the case of Tahir Zemaj, the commander of the LDK’s military wing, which was allegedly in conflict with the Kosovo Liberaration Army, KLA.
It also deals with Ismet Rraci, president of the LDK branch in Istog, Besim Dajaku, a bodyguard of Rugova's, and many others.
Some of the victims, according to Koha Ditore, were LDK activists. Others were were believed to have links with the former Serbian regime, or were seen as collaborators.
The report says its information is compiled from reports inherited from the UN Mission to Kosovo, UNMIK, which were never completed.
The report concludes that there were links between the victims.
“The models of the murders, the targets and timing all suggest that the process was not coincidental but was linked in the form of a general strategy,” the paper quotes the report.
“It is important to underline that the report is not meant at concluding what strategy this was, but only determines that there was such a strategy.”
The LDK has in the past accused the former Secret Agency, SHIK, of being behind the assassinations of its members, but these claims were rejected by SHIK’s former boss, Kadri Veseli.
In 2009 Kosovo was shaken by the claims of a former self-styled SHIK agent, Nazim Bllaca, who said that the agency had targeted and killed members of the LDK.
The 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 now ruling PDK.
SHIK claimed in 2008 that it had officially disbanded. It’s former director Kadri Veseli, last month said the agency never killed anyone, and he also denied that Bllaca had ever been a member of SHIK.
In two high-profile war crimes trials currently ongoing in Pristina, a series of witnesses have retracted previous statements alleging abuse at Kosovo Liberation Army detention centres.