News 14 Oct 15

Kosovo Veterans Rally Against Wartime Commander’s Arrest

Around 1,000 people led by Kosovo Liberation Army veterans protested in the town of Prizren over the arrest of former senior guerrilla Xhemshit Krasniqi for alleged war crimes committed in Albania.

Petrit Kryeziu
KLA veterans protest in Prizren. Photo: BIRN.

The protesters marched to the centre of Krasniqi’s hometown of Prizren in southern Kosovo on Wednesday to express their anger at his arrest earlier this month on the request of EU rule-of-law mission, EULEX prosecutors.

Joined by war veterans from Pristina and local politicians from Prizren, they carried placards with slogans like “EULEX, the KLA has no criminals”, “Stop the arrest of the liberators” and “The criminals were the Serbian police and army”.

Isa Berisha, one of the organisers of the protest, accused those who testified against KLA fighters of being liars and criminals.

“Many witnesses who have invented false accusations against the liberators and abuse reality in Kosovo were collaborators with Serbia who carried out massacres, burned and killed these [Albanian] people for decades, and today they talk and walk freely inside and outside Kosovo,” Berisha said.

Some students from Prizren also joined the war veterans’ protest.

“We will never stop until his [Krasniqi’s] release,” said Nehat Gashi, representative of the Student Parliament of Prizren.

Krasniqi was arrested on October 4 in Prizren during a police operation conducted by EULEX.

EULEX prosecutors suspect he committed war crimes against civilians detained in camps run by the KLA in northern Albania.

He was allegedly involved in torturing detainees in camps in Kukes and Cahan during April, May and June 1999, during the conflict in neighbouring Kosovo.

During the NATO bombing of the former Yugoslavia from March to June 1999, the KLA, then fighting the Serbian police and military, had a base in Kukes from which they conducted guerrilla operations across the border in Kosovo.

The KLA also maintained a network of prisons in their bases in Albania and Kosovo during and after the conflict of 1999.

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