News 19 Mar 12

Switzerland to Extradite Kosovar to Serbia

Shemsi Nuhiu, a former member of Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, will be extradited to Serbia after Swiss courts turned down his appeal not to be sent for trial in Serbia.

Marija Ristic

Serbian authorities say they expected Nuhiu to arrive in Serbia within days after the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg rejected his appeal against the Swiss extradition decision, the Interior Ministry said.

The Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland decided on March 7 that Nuhiu should be extradited to Serbia based on the international arrest warrant that Serbian police issued a year ago.

Nuhiu’s legal team then appealed to Strasbourg, requesting an annulment of the Swiss ruling but this was rejected on Friday.

Serbia has charged Nuhiu, a former member of KLA and a citizen of both Serbia and Kosovo, with the unlawful imprisonment, torture, rape, intimidation, terror and robbery of Serb and other non-Albanian civilians in the Gnjilane area of Kosovo in 1999.

According to the allegations, from the beginning of June until December 1999, he tortured and killed 80 people while a further 153 were tortured and released. Thirty-four people remain missing.

The accused allegedly held the civilians in the basement of a school, where he and his colleagues tortured and raped them, while their bodies were cut to pieces and thrown into containers and then into a lake.

Belgrade Special Court is currently trying for the second time nine members of the so-called Gnjilane group.

Previously, a court had ruled on January 21, 2011 on events in the Gnjilane area, sentencing the nine to a total of 101 years in prison.

The Serbian Appellate Court quashed the judgment on December 7 and sent the case back for retrial.

Serbian police arrested the nine defendants in 2008 in Presevo, a town in southern Serbia near Kosovo with a majority Albanian population while the remaining eight members of the group, including Nuhiu, remained on the run.

According to media reports, Kosovo Foreign and Justice ministries and its embassy in Bern were in constant dialogue with Swiss authorities trying to prevent Nuhiu’s extradition to Belgrade, stating that he would be mistreated.

The Kosovo embassy in Switzerland announced that they will ask the Swiss embassy in Belgrade to closely monitor the case in front of the Belgrade Court.  

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