news 01 Nov 17

No War Crimes Evidence Against Kosovo Serb Minister

The Kosovo Special Prosecution announced that there is no evidence to support allegations that Serb minister Nenad Rikalo tortured ethnic Albanians during the war.

Die Morina
BIRN
Pristina
Nenad Rikalo, Kosovo's Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development. Photo: Agriculture Ministry.

The Special Prosecution said on Wednesday that after investigating the claims of several people who alleged that Nenad Rikalo, Kosovo’s new agriculture minister, was involved in the torture of ethnic Albanians during the 1990s war, it has not found any evidence to support the accusations.

“Based on the results of the preliminary investigation, the Special Prosecution of the Republic of Kosovo has assessed that there is insufficient evidence for the existence of the criminal offence of war crimes. In case of possible new evidence, the prosecution may launch a new investigation,” reads the statement issued by Special Prosecution on Wednesday.

It said that after media reports about claims that some people from Dardania district of Pristina alleged mistreatment by minister Rikalo during the war in Kosovo, the Special Prosecution deployed police to collect information.

Several Pristina residents, who claim to have lived in same building as Rikalo during the 1990s, told broadcaster KTV in September that they witnessed Rikalo torturing Kosovo Albanians during the war period, and that they always saw him in uniform.

Festim Beqiri, one of the residents of the building, said that he witnessed Rikalo torturing someone twice and that the new minister pointed a weapon at Beqiri’s late father.

The statements sparked negative reactions from the opposition and the public, and demands for Rikalo’s dismissal.

But Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj defended his minister, stating that he had asked for information from the state prosecution, the Kosovo Intelligence Agency and the police about the torture allegations, but there was no evidence.

Rikalo is one of three Kosovo Serb ministers in the new government who joined the cabinet after the Belgrade-backed Srpska Lista, the main Serb party in Kosovo, decided to join Haradinaj’s administration.

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