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News 14 Mar 17

Kosovo Shooting Suspect ‘Sought Revenge on Ex-Communist’

A man arrested for shooting at veteran Kosovo politician, rights activists and lawyer Azem Vllasi accused his victim of oppressing young people when he was a Communist leader.

Azem Vllasi. Photo: BIRN

The lawyer for suspect Murat Jashari, an ethnic Albanian originally from the south-western Macedonian town of Kumanovo, told BIRN on Tuesday that his client said he shot Vllasi because of his alleged role in oppressing Kosovo's youth during his time as head of the former ruling Communists.

“During the police questioning, he admitted the charge. He said that he was motivated by the damage that Vllasi has caused to young people since the 1980s. It has nothing to do with Vllasi’s work as a lawyer,” Kastrati said.

Jashari was arrested hours after the shooting that took place on Monday morning in Pristina.

Vllasi, who was wounded by the gunshots, is receiving medical treatment.

He told BIRN on Monday that he does not know the suspect.

“I have never had nothing to do with this person… I have no idea what are the motives behind the attack,” Vllasi said.

He said he was convinced that the attack was “a well-prepared assassination attempt”.

Vllasi was one of the most important politicians in Kosovo in the Yugoslav period.

A former top functionary in the former Yugoslavia, he became head of the ruling party in Kosovo, the League of Communists of Kosovo, in 1986, before being toppled under Serbian pressure in 1988.

He later became a political prisoner under Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic - who abolished Kosovo's autonomy as a province - before being released in 1990.

He has more recently become a defender of civil rights.

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