News 26 Jun 13

Kosovo to Try Macedonia Mass Murder Suspects

Two ethnic Albanians wanted in Skopje over five killings which raised ethnic tensions in Macedonia are to face trial in neighbouring Kosovo for illegal possession of weapons.

Edona Peci

The two suspects that Macedonia wants to extradite over the high-profile murder case, Alil Demiri and Afrim Ismailovic, will go on trial in Pristina on Friday, three months after they were arrested in the Kosovo capital.

“The defendants carried arms without any authorisation, from an unknown date until March 3, 2013,” said the indictment, which has been seen by BIRN.

During their arrest, Kosovo police said they confiscated an automatic gun, a pistol, two hand grenades and 31 bullets.

“They bought the arms, found in the last apartment where they lived, for any eventuality because they understood they could be in danger [of being targeted] by secret services,” the indictment said.

Demiri and Ismailovic could face up to ten years in jail and a fine of up to 7,500 euro if convicted.

Four other ethnic Albanians are already on trial in Skopje on terrorism charges over the killings near the Macedonian capital in April 2012 – known locally as the ‘Monster’ case. All have pleaded not guilty.

Macedonia has sent an extradition request to Kosovo in the hope of also prosecuting Demiri and Ismailovic, who have been on the run since the trial began last December.

The four men on trial were held when police arrested 20 allegedly radical Muslims during an operation last May in several villages around the capital.

The bodies of Filip Slavkovski, Aleksandar Nakjevski, Cvetanco Acevski and Kire Trickovski, all aged between 18 and 20, had been discovered on April 12 last year.

Their corpses had been lined up and they appeared to have been executed. The body of 45-year-old Borce Stevkovski was found a short distance away from the rest.

News of the murder raised ethnic tensions after groups of ethnic Macedonians staged protests, which in some cases turned violent, blaming the killings on members of the country’s large Albanian community.

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