News 23 May 14

Ex-KLA Fighters Surrender After Escape

After surrendering to the police, three ex-KLA fighters who went on the run will now face trial for war crimes allegedly committed during the 1990s.


Sami Lushtaku, Ismet Haxha and Sahit Jashari surrendered to the Kosovo Police on Thursday night, two days after they went on the run from a clinic in Pristina on Tuesday after refusing to be transferred to a prison in the northern town of Mitrovica.

The defendants surrendered in the hospital surroundings, where it is believed they had been hiding since their escape.

They were sent to the Dubrava prison near Peja and will now face their trial for war crimes at the Basic Court in Mitrovica on Friday.

On Monday, a judge from the EU rule-of-law mision, EULEX, ordered the prison authorities at Dubrava to transfer the defendants to prison in the Serb-dominated northern part of Kosovo.

The authorities refused to obey, claiming it could be dangerous because two high-profile Serbs are also held there.

Kosovo Serb politician Oliver Ivanovic and retired police colonel Dragoljub Delibasic are in custody in the Mitrovica jail over allegations of involvement in war crimes.

Following the order, friends and relatives of the accused seized the clinic in Pristina, preventing anyone from entering the hospital where the ex-fighters were being treated.

Several journalists were attacked trying to approach the hospital.

Seven ex-KLA guerillas had been in detention on remand since last May and were initially held at Dubrava before being transferred to the Pristina clinic for treatment some weeks ago.

The trial of the Drenica seven started on Thursday at the Basic Court in the northern part of the divided town of Mitrovica, with only four of the defendants present in court.

Lushtaku, mayor of Skenderaj/Srbice, and the two other ex- KLA fighters from the "Drenica Group", are charged with torturing and mistreating prisoners at a KLA detention centre in Likovc/Likovac in 1998.

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