Kosovo Party Backs Ending Salustro’s Immunity


By Fatmir Aliu

The ruling Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, said the European Union Rule of Law Mission, EULEX, should treat everyone equally before the law, including international lawyers who refuse to take the stand in the Klecka trial.

“No one is above the law”, the PDK said on Wednesday, referring to the earlier request by Fatmir Limaj’s lawyers for Maurizio Salustro to testify in his war crimes trial.

“In democratic countries, where the rule of law is a basic principle, no one can hide behind immunity,” the PDK statement added.

Limaj’s defence have demanded the suspension of EULEX prosecutor Salustro from the case.

They want to question him concerning allegations that the late key witness against Limaj in the trial only testified under pressure from the Italian lawyer.

Limaj, a ruling party MP and former Transport Minister, and nine other ex-Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, fighters, are charged with committing war crimes against civilians, mainly Serbs, during the Kosovo war in 1999.

The PDK, led by Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, says it is following the trial closely. It insists that the KLA respected international conventions and led a just war against Serb forces.

Limaj and the other ex-KLA fighters plead not guilty to charges of ordering the torture and killing of at least eight prisoners, mostly Serbs, in 1999 at Klecka in central Kosovo.

The case rests mainly on the testimony of Agim Zogaj, better known under the code name of Witness X, who killed himself last September in Germany before the trial started.

Witness X provided key testimonials relating to the events alleged to have taken place at the Klecka camp in the 1999 war in Kosovo, where he reportedly served as the prison guard and made notes in his diary that later served as evidence material.

In his testimonies, Zogaj told EULEX prosecutors that he took orders from Limaj to execute Albanians and Serbs. But according to published fragments of his diary, he also wrote of being threatened to testify by Salustro.

At Tuesday’s session before the Pristina District Court, Salustro said that because he had immunity as an international staffer, he would not testify in the case.

The EULEX Chief Prosecutor is expected to make a decision on the defence lawyers’ request by next week.

Limaj, who remains a popular figure in Kosovo, has already faced a war crimes trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY, in November 2005.

He was acquitted of all charges.

Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (fornerkt the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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