The family of Nehat Haliti says that his arrest is meant to scare the Kosovo Albanians, and that he has no connection with the alleged war crimes he is charged with.
The family of Nehat Haliti, who was arrested over the weekend in Serbia on war crimes charges, denies that he was ever a Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, soldier, and called upon the EU to intervene in his release.
The 32 year-old Haliti, who is currently being held at a detention centre in Belgrade, was arrested in Subotica on Friday as he was travelling from Austria to Kosovo, where he planned to spend his holidays.
The Serbian prosecution has charged him with war crimes and cruel treatment of a Kosovo Serb and a Kosovo Albanian on June 16, 1999, in the town of Prizren.
His family denies that Haliti was in Prizeren at the time the alleged war crimes took place.
“We can prove that he was with his family in Shijak, Albania, after being forcibly expelled from their house by Serb paramilitaries in 1999,” reads the press statement issued by the family on Monday night.
The head of the KLA War Veterans Association, Muharrem Xhemajli, told Balkan Insight that Haliti is not registered as a war veteran with the association.
Kosovo’s Council for the Protection of Human Rights and Freedoms, KMDLNJ, says that Haliti and his family have been living in the Austrian city of Perk, since 1999, having fled Kosovo during the war.
KMDLNJ’s regional coordinator in Prizren, Bashkim Kajdomcaj, suspects that the arrest is politically motivated.
“This is part of a wild campaign that the Serb regime is leading against the citizens of Kosovo, to terrify and blackmail them, and is contrary to the freedom of movement policy which Serbia promotes,” Kajdomcaj told reporters.
Serbia's War Crimes Prosecution Office has not yet commented on the arrest.
Since March, there have been a spate of tit-for-tat arrests in Kosovo and Serbia, which have drawn criticism from international human rights organizations, who describe it as a politically motivated campaign.