News 24 Nov 16

Kosovo Dissident’s Serbian Assassins Given Life Sentences

A Belgian court has given life sentences to a former Yugoslav secret police official and two Serbian hitmen for the assassination of Kosovo Albanian dissident Enver Hadri in Brussels in 1990.

Die Morina
Enver Hadri's grave. Photo: T. Hadri/Creative Commons.

The Assize Court in Brussels on Wednesday sentenced Bozidar Spasic, the former head of special operations of the Yugoslav secret police, UDBA, and Serbian crime gang members Andrija Draskovic and Veselin Vukotic to life in prison for the murder of Kosovo émigré rights activist Enver Hadri.

Spasic organised the murder and Draskovic and Vukotic carried it out, the court said in the verdict that was announced the day before the sentencing.

Hadri, the head of the Committee for Human Rights Defence in Kosovo, was shot dead in his car while waiting at traffic lights in Brussels on February 25, 1990.

All three men were tried and sentenced in their absence because they are in Serbia.

Spasic, who is well-known in Serbia and has written two books about his work as a spy boss, told media in Belgrade that he had not been officially informed about the verdict.

“I don’t even know what I was convicted of, or how many years [the sentence was]; bearing in mind that they consider that I was the organiser, I guess that I got a life sentence, I don’t know,” he told N1 television on Wednesday.

Vukotic’s lawyer Zdenko Tomanovic told N1 meanwhile that his client was not able to defend himself in court in Brussels and prove “the non-existence and illegality of the evidence that was collected” because he could not leave Serbia as he is under house arrest.

Vukotic was convicted of killing a man in a nightclub in Montenegro, for which he eventually served eight months in jail in Serbia before being released on humanitarian grounds. However a report by BIRN in 2011 revealed that he was freed because he agreed to become an informant and provide information about Montenegrin gangsters.

Draskovic’s lawyer told Serbian news website KRIK that if the Belgian court decision becomes final, he will take the case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Draskovic was also jailed for ten years by a Serbian court in 2010 for killing another criminal in a restaurant in Belgrade, but was given early release from prison three years afterwards.

The victim of the Brussels assassination, Enver Hadri, was an ethnic Albanian nationalist and rights activist from Kosovo who had fled to Belgium in 1972.

He was active in the National Resistance of Kosovo Albanians and later founded the Committee for Human Rights Defence in Kosovo, which collected data on the oppression of ethnic Albanians by the Yugoslav security forces.

He was shot just days before he was scheduled to present a report detailing the deaths of dozens of ethnic Albanians at the hands of the Yugoslav police to the United Nations Human Rights Council in New York.

His daughter, Teuta Hadri, said on Wednesday that the life sentences also represented a condemnation of Serbia, which she accused of shielding her father’s assassins.

“For a quarter of a century, the Serbian authorities did all they could in order that the murder of Enver Hadri was not solved and the perpetrators were not punished,” she said in a statement.

Two other suspects who allegedly participated in Hadri’s assassination, Andrija Lakonic and Darko Asanin, were murdered in Serbia in the 1990s.

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