A Pristina court has ordered another two months of pre-trial detention for ex-Kosovo Liberation Army commander turned politician Fatmir Limaj, who is accused of war crimes.
Ex-KLA commander Limaj, a lawmaker with Kosovo’s ruling Democratic Party, will remain in detention until April 24, an EU rule of law mission, EULEX judge ruled on Friday.
Limaj is one of ten suspects in the high-profile ‘Klecka’ war crimes case, accused of abusing prisoners at a detention camp during the late 1990s conflict in Kosovo.
Tome Gashi, Limaj’s defense lawyer, said he has appealed against the decision extend his client’s detention.
“There is no legal reason [for it], but it is obvious that political reasons are having an impact on this issue,” Gashi told BIRN.
Limaj has claimed that the case has been prolonged to prevent him from returning to active politics and so that EULEX can publicly demonstrate that it is doing its job in Kosovo.
He was acquittedof the charges in May last year but the prosecution successfully appealed against the verdict and the case has since been sent for a retrial.
According to the indictment, Limaj and the other co-defendants, also former KLA fighters, “violated the bodily integrity and health of an unspecified number of Serb and Albanian civilians and Serb prisoners of war held in a detention centre in the village of Klecka”.
Prisoners were held in “inhumane conditions, which included keeping prisoners chained, cold and hungry, in unsanitary conditions, with frequent beatings”, the indictment said.
In a previous trial at the Hague Tribunal in 2005, Limaj was acquitted of war crimes against Serbs and Albanians suspected of collaborating with Serbia during the Kosovo war and returned home to a hero’s welcome.