Testifying at the trial of Nazim Bllaca, a self-proclaimed former SHIK assassin, Kadri Veseli said Bllaca never worked for the agency, which didn't carry out assassinations in any case.
The former director of the Kosovo Intelligence Agency, SHIK, Kadri Veseli, told the court that Nazim Bllaca a self-confessed former SHIK assassin, was never an agent for the service and that none of his agents had ever been instructed to kill anyone.
Veseli was summoned by Pristina’s District Court to testify and explain the role of the agency, which Bllaca claims killed ruling party rivals and Serbian spies after the 1999 war.
But Veseli said the SHIK never authorised any of the acts that Bllaca said he committed. “Bllaca was never an agent of SHIK, and I don’t believe he carried out any services for SHIK,” Veseli said.
Kosovo was shaken by the revelations of Bllaca in 2009 who admitted having murdered an Albanian who had collaborated with the Serbian authorities back in 1999.
A former fighter in the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, Fahredin Gashi, was later sentenced to 18 years following Bllaca’s testimony.
In a second trial, known as “Bllaca 2”, six suspects, Sadik Abazi, Shaban Syla, Bekim Syla, Driton Hajdari, Fahredin Uka and Fahredin Gashi, are charged based on Bllaca’s testimony with killing Salih Gashi, and with two counts of attempted murder.
But the former SHIK chief said that none of the six suspects in court were former agents for SHIK. “No one could have become a member of the service without my approval. No one was accepted without a meeting with me in person, which lasted up to two hours,” he said.
“The mandate of SHIK as an institution was as an information service - tracking. It was also mandated to analyze and gather information in the interests of national safety,” Veseli explained.
Salih Gashi was shot dead on June 15, 1999, apparently because he was an activist of the Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, and a collaborator with the former Serbian regime.
The LDK, then led by Kosovo’s first President, Ibrahim Rugova, was the main political rival to the Hashim Thaci's ruling Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK.
“Since my first day at work one of my duties was to discover Serbian collaborators… there were dozens of such persons that we turned into cooperators,” Veseli recalled.
“They gave us information voluntarily, and they knew best how Serbia’s secret services function,” he told the court.
He said that the creation of SHIK was agreed with the Western powers at the time of NATO's military intervention in the Kosovo conflict.
He said that SHIK then became operational after the establishment of Kosovo’s Transitional Government under Thaci.
Veseli was allegedly officially appointed by Thaci to run SHIK in March 1999 and reported only to him. He said the agency had 92 workers, "including technical staff".
“Our agents, officially had no right to carry weapon,” he noted.
Veseli handed Judge Toren Tomasen two documents illustrating the organizational structure of SHIK.
The document showed that his deputy chief was Ilmi Reçica, and the general director Latif Gashi.
SHIK had four directorates: Ilmi Ramadani was in charge of Information and Analysis, Fatmir Xhelili was in charge of the Crime Directorate, Fadil Demaku led the Counter-Terrorism Directorate and Ferat Shala was director of Counter-Intelligence.
Veseli explained that the service operated on the basis of “an internal regulation” and had no other legal basis. Agents were trained for three months “inside and outside Kosovo, in at least three countries.
“To my knowledge, no agent committed any act against the interest of the citizens in Kosovo or elsewhere. Otherwise, I would have dismissed him. But, you always have people who abuse things,” he said.
A US expert on Albanian issues, David Phillips, released a report in 2010 on the agency, quoting an anonymous source, claiming that the supposedly defunct body was still receiving $200 million a year from bribery, extortion, racketeering, and protection services.
SHIK claimed in June 2008 that it had been officially disbanded.