News 20 Mar 12

Joint Indictment Against KLA Members

A Belgrade court held a preliminary hearing in the case against Shemsi Nuhiu and 16 other KLA members, all of whom are accused of war crimes against civilians in Kosovo in 1999.

Marija Ristic

The Special Court has decided to integrate currently separate trials against seventeen Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, fighters - all members of the so-called ‘Gnjilane group’.

Shemsi Nuhiu is to be extradited from Switzerland to face trial, joining nine others who are already imprisoned in Serbia. The remaining seven accused are still on the run.

Serbian authorities are expecting Nuhiu to arrive in Serbia in the next few days after the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg rejected his appeal on Friday against the Swiss extradition decision.

The Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland had previously ruled on March 7 that Nuhiu should be extradited to Serbia based on the international arrest warrant that the Serbian police had issued a year ago.

Serbia has charged seventeen KLA members with the unlawful imprisonment, torture, rape, intimidation, terror and robbery of Serb and other non-Albanian civilians in the Gnjilane area of Kosovo in 1999.

According to the allegations, from the beginning of June until December 1999, they tortured and killed 80 people while a further 153 were tortured and then released. Thirty-four people remain missing.

The accused allegedly abused the civilians in the basement of a school, and the bodies of those that were killed were cut to pieces and thrown into containers and then into a lake.

The Belgrade Special Court had already found nine of the accused KLA members guilty of the crimes in the Gnjilane area, sentencing the men to a total of 101 years in prison on January 21, 2011.

But the Serbian Appellate Court quashed the judgment on December 7 last year and sent the case back to the court for retrial.

The nine KLA members currently imprisoned in Serbia were arrested in 2008 in Presevo, a town near Kosovo in southern Serbia with a majority Albanian population.

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