News 04 Sep 17

Kosovo ‘Drenica Group’ Guerrillas’ Convictions Confirmed

Pristina’s Supreme Court upheld the verdict convicting ten ex-members of the Kosovo Liberation Army, including former security chief and ambassador Sylejman Selimi, of crimes against civilians during the 1998-99 conflict.

Perparim Isufi
BIRN
Pristina
Sulejman Selimi in a police car outside court in Mitrovica in May 2015.

The Supreme Court on Monday rejected all the defence’s requests, objections and allegations and upheld the convictions of the ten former Kosovo Liberation Army members.

The convicted men were all members of the KLA’s so-called ‘Drenica Group’.

They include Sylejman Selimi, Pristina’s former ambassador to Albania and ex-head of the Kosovo Security Force.

Selimi was found guilty of torturing a civilian prisoner at an improvised KLA detention centre in the village of Likovc/Likovac in the Skenderaj/Srbica municipality in 1998 and early 1999.

He was jailed for eight years by judges at Mitrovica Basic Court in May 2015, but the Appeals Court in Pristina cut his sentence to seven years in October 2016.

Three other former KLA ‘Drenica Group’ members, Jahir Demaku, Zeqir Demaku and Isni Thaci, were convicted of the torture of civilians at the detention centre in Likovc/Likovac.

Thaci was jailed for six and a half years and the other two for six years each.

Ex-guerrillas Agim Demaj, Bashkim Demaj, Driton Demaj, Selman Demaj, Fadil Demaku, Nexhat Demaku were also sentenced to three years in prison for beatings at the detention centre.

The jailed men are all former members of a KLA operational group based in the Drenica region in central Kosovo.

Their high-profile trial was dogged by protests against the prosecutions of the former KLA fighters and a prison escape by three of the defendants.

After the war, Selimi was appointed as commander of the Kosovo Guard, then commander of the Kosovo Protection Corps.

He then became the commander of the Kosovo Security Force until 2011, when he was appointed ambassador to Tirana.

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