news 26 Apr 17

Kosovo Official Pleads Innocent to Hate Speech

Asim Cenaj, a Kosovo municipal officer charged with inciting hate and ethnic intolerance by insulting Serbs at the council building in Decan/Decani, pleaded not guilty in court.

Die Morina, Shkodran Nikci
The court hearing on Wednesday. Photo: BIRN.

Municipal officer Asim Cenaj entered a not guilty plea on Wednesday at a court hearing in the western town of Decan/Decani to the charges of inciting hatred.

“I do not feel guilty at all,” said Cenaj after the prosecutor read out the charges.

According the indictment, on December 1 last year, during a meeting with war-displaced Serbs and Montenegrins at the municipality building, Cenaj used hate speech.

Prosecutor Muharrem Bajraktari said that right after the Serbs started to talk, Cenaj said: “Shame on you for coming because you are not welcome. We know who you are.”

Cenaj, whose father went missing during the Kosovo war, accused the Serbs and Montenegrins of coming to the municipality as a provocation.

“If you had honour and morality you would not come to provoke like this.,” he told them.

After Wednesday’s hearing, Cenaj said that he would say the same thing again.

“I only asked for light to be shed on [the fate of] missing persons... If I had the possibility, I would repeat the same things even in Belgrade or Brussels,” he said.

His municipal colleagues in Decan/Decani, including mayor Rasim Selmanaj, protested in front of the local police station the day after his arrest.

“The indictment against Cenaj is unnecessary because he was asking about the fate of his father and this does not represent hatred,” Selmanaj told BIRN at the time.

More than 1,600 people are still listed as missing - both Serbs and Albanians - as a consequence of the Kosovo war.

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