news 15 Feb 17

Kosovo Confirms Arrest Warrants for 57 Serbians

The Pristina authorities are seeking the arrest of dozens of unnamed Serbian citizens for committing war crimes during the 1990s conflict, although the warrants cannot be executed outside Kosovo’s borders.

Die Morina
Kosovo's state prosecution. Photo: BIRN.

Kosovo’s Special Prosecution confirmed on Wednesday that it has issued 57 warrants for the arrest of Serbian citizens suspected of committing war crimes, but will not reveal the names of those who are wanted.

“According to requests for prosecution filed by local prosecutors, pre-trial judges at basic courts issued 57 local and international warrants,” Special Prosecution spokesperson Liridona Kozmaqi told BIRN.

The European Union’s rule-of-law mission in Kosovo, EULEX, said that only local judicial institutions are working on the investigations.

“EULEX is not involved in processing 57 arrest warrants, as reported in the media. These warrants are connected to the local cases currently being investigated by Kosovo prosecution,” EULEX spokesperson Besa Domi told BIRN.

Special Prosecution spokesperson Kozmaqi stated however that the warrants were issued “upon the request of EULEX prosecutors”.

But when asked for a second time, EULEX spokesperson Domi repeated: “EULEX denies involvement in these 57 warrants.”

Serbian tabloid newspaper Informer reported on Tuesday that among the names on Kosovo’s wanted list are Serbian ruling party officials.

Serbian Army chief of staff Ljubisa Dikovic and former police colonel Goran Radosavljevic were also reported to be on the list, but this has not been confirmed by the Kosovo prosecution.

Momir Stojanovic, a former MP from the ruling Progressive Party, is however on Interpol’s publicly-available red list.

EULEX said in 2015 that Stojanovic is suspected of war crimes against civilians in the Djakovica/Gjakova area of Kosovo in 1999, although Serbia said it had no evidence against him.

Serbian news agency Tanjug has meanwhile reported that Serbia has also issued 100 warrants for former Kosovo Liberation Army officials suspected of war crimes.

The issue of international warrants became a subject of fierce dispute between Pristina and Belgrade after former Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, who was a KLA commander during the war, was arrested in January in France on a Serbian warrant alleging he committed war crimes.

A French court will rule on March 2 on whether Haradinaj can be extradited to Serbia to face charges.

Tome Gashi, a lawyer from Kosovo who has defended former KLA officials at war crimes trials, told BIRN that publishing the names of the Serbians wanted by Kosovo would complicate the process of executing the warrants.

“Of course these names should not be published... Publishing their names would make their arrests impossible because if they had this information, they would avoid entering Kosovo,” Gashi told BIRN.

As Kosovo is not a member of Interpol or Europol, the warrants cannot be executed in other countries.

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