news 23 May 13

Kosovo Mayor Arrested For Alleged War Crimes

Police have detained the mayor of Skenderaj/Srbice, Sami Lushtaku, and four other suspects for alleged war crimes against civilian prisoners during the 1999 conflict.

Edona Peci

Officers from the EU rule-of-law mission EULEX and Kosovo police arrested the five men on Thursday on suspicion of abusing civilian prisoners held at a Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA detention centre during wartime.

“The five individuals are being investigated for war crimes against the civilian population in the form of the violation of the bodily integrity and health of civilians held in a KLA detention centre located in Likovc/Likovac (Skenderaj/Srbica municipality),” said a statement from EULEX.

“One of the individuals is also being investigated for a war crime in the form of the killing of one civilian,” the statement said.

Lushtaku’s lawyer Arianit Koci confirmed that his client had been detained.

“Mr. Lushtaku is charged with war crimes against the civilian population in violation of the Geneva conventions,” Koci told BIRN.

He said that more information about the case was expected on Friday when Lushtaku and the other four suspects will appear before a pre-trial judge.

“Tomorrow we’ll see if he remains detained or if he will be released,” the lawyer said.

The Kosovo authorities have not commented on the arrests so far, but the War Veterans Association accused EULEX of “trying to attack the KLA’s war”.

“The continuous prosecution of liberation heroes by EULEX has proved that they [the EU mission] have only one aim in Kosovo:  the defilement of the liberation war of the Albanian nation with the Kosovo Liberation Army at the front,” the association said in a statement.

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