News 10 Nov 15

EU Raps Kosovo Over War Crimes Prosecutions

The European Commission’s annual progress report on Kosovo said local prosecutors lack the willingness to investigate war crimes allegedly committed by Kosovo Liberation Army fighters.

Petrit Collaku
BIRN
Pristina
The Justice Palace in Pristina.

The European Commission’s 2015 progress report, published on Tuesday, said that Kosovo prosecutors lack the willingness and the capacity to investigate war crimes cases when former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army are involved.

The report also said that local prosecutors are in need of basic training because of the lack of technical expertise to tackle war crimes cases.

In most of around 700 pending war crimes cases, the suspects are ethnic Serbs who mostly live in Serbia and so cannot be brought to court, it continued.

“In the rest of the cases (166), the suspects are ethnic Albanians and usually ex-KLA members. There is concern over the capacity and willingness to investigate these cases,” the report said.

It also noted that some Serb police officers who have joined Kosovo’s police force have been allocated to war crimes probes “but investigations remain largely non-operational”.

The report called for witness protection - a key problem in staging successful war crimes prosecutions in Kosovo - to be improved.

It also said that the unresolved fate of missing persons from the 1990s conflict remains a humanitarian concern.

Around 1,670 people are still missing after the end of the war in Kosovo in 1999.

Other sections of Tuesday’s European Commission progress report on Kosovo emphasised the growing polarisation between the government and the opposition, the continued politicisation of public administration and political interference in the judiciary.

It further noted that the country is only in the “early stages” of preparing a real fight against corruption and organised crime.

“The rare investigations into high-level corruption have so far not resulted in final convictions,” it said.

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