News 05 Jul 13

Kosovo Ex-Guerrillas Freed From House Arrest

Ex-guerrilla turned MP Fatmir Limaj and nine other suspects accused of abusing prisoners during wartime were set free again in the latest twist in the high-profile ‘Klecka’ case.

Edona Peci
BIRN
Pristina

The EU rule-of-law mission in Kosovo, EULEX, said on Thursday that Limaj and the other nine war crimes defendants should be released again, just two weeks after they were put under house arrest amid prosecution claims that they might abscond or interfere with witnesses in the trial.

“The trial panel at the Pristina basic court has ordered the release from house detention of all ten defendants in the Klecka case. The court has seized the travel documents of the defendants and ordered them to report to police once a day,” EULEX said in written statement.

Limaj and the others, all former Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA fighters, have been put under house arrest and then freed several times since their retrial began in November last year.

They are accused of abusing Serb and Albanian civilians and Serb prisoners of war at the Klecka detention centre during the 1998-99 conflict in Kosovo.

Albanian civilians suspected of collaboration with the Serbian regime, Serbian civilians and Serbian police and military personnel were allegedly detained at Klecka, which according to the indictment also served as a detention centre for KLA soldiers investigated or sentenced for disciplinary offences.

Limaj was initially acquitted of the charges in May 2012, but the prosecution successfully appealed against the verdict and the case was sent for a retrial.

In a previous trial at the Hague Tribunal in 2005, Limaj was acquitted of war crimes against Serbs and Albanians suspected of collaborating with Serbia during the Kosovo war and returned home to a hero’s welcome.

Limaj and six other defendants are also facing a separate trial over alleged corruption during his time as Kosovo’s transport minister from 2008 to 2010.

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