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news 17 Nov 17

Kosovo Jails Vetevendosje Activists For Attacking Assembly

A Pristina court jailed four Vetevendosje activists, including an MP, for a total of 21 years and six months for firing a grenade at the Kosovo parliament building in 2016.

Die Morina
Vetevendosje activists in Pristina Basic Court after the announcement of the verdict | Photo: Atdhe Mulla 

The Basic Court in Pristina found four Vetevendosje activists, including an MP, guilty on Friday of firing an explosive device at the Kosovo parliament building on August 4, 2016.

The court jailed Vetevendosje MP Frasher Krasniqi for eight years, Atdhe Arifi for six years, Egzon Haliti for five and six months and Adea Batusha for two years. Except for Batusha, the three others will be taken into custody.

The families of the accused and two Vetevendosje MPs, Albulena Haxhiu and Donika Kadaj- Bujupi, were present for the sentence and, during the announcement of the verdict, clashes erupted between police and the public, when the judge demanded that anyone who did not remain silent should leave the chamber.

Special Forces were seen arriving at the court just after the verdict was announced.

The four accused had pleaded not guilty at the hearing held on 28 February, saying the indictment was political.

However, their requests for dismissal of the indictment and the dismissal of the proceedings were rejected by the Basic Court.

The indictment had included a fifth person, Astrit Dehari, who died in detention in Prizren in November 2016 before any charges were brought against him.

Dehari's death, which sparked protests by civil society groups, was ruled an act of suicide, although Vetevendosje has continued to demand an international investigation.

In the August 2016 attack, motorcyclists fired a rocket propelled grenade as they drove near the parliament building on a busy street in Pristina. After the explosion, a special police unit sealed off the area. No one was hurt.

The previous months saw tensions rise among political parties with opposition MPs releasing tear gas inside parliament several times in a protest over an unpopular accord with Serbia giving more autonomy to Serb-dominated municipalities and the demarcation agreement with Montenegro.

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