By Petrit Collaku
Kosovo’s government and opposition parties have condemned a spate of arrests conducted by the EU’s rule of mission, which many described as an attempt to smear Kosovo’s independence fighters.
EULEX arrested 12 persons on Wednesday on suspicion of committing war crimes in Kosovo. Among them is Fatmir Limaj, the MP and former transport minister.
“The government of Kosovo estimates that every attempt to smear KLA fighters will fail,” a government press release read, referring to former fighters of the Kosovo Liberation Army.
The government said it was confident that the charges would be proven baseless and libelous, adding that the KLA had waged war on the then Serbian authorities to protect the country and its people.
Officials cautioned Kosovo’s people to act with restraint and urged them to have confidence both in the innocence of the accused and in the justice system.
Agim Ceku, minister of the security forces and former chief of KLA general headquarters, said all attempts to smear the KLA’s “clean war” record emanated from Belgrade.
“All these attempts, sponsored by Serbia, are attempts to present Serbia as a victim. But it is well known and the whole world knows who was the victim and who was the aggressor,” Ceku said.
The opposition nationalist Self-determination movement described the arrests as a Serbian manoeuvre designed to “service” Belgrade’s cause in current Kosovo-Serbia negotiations.
“Through this strategy, EULEX is trying to discredit Kosovo and give a moral advantage to Serbia,” Self-determination said.
“There was never any justice for the children and pregnant women murdered and tortured during the Kosovo war and now cases are being raised about the invaders killed during our liberation war,” Self-determination said.
Another opposition party, the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, AAK, also condemned the arrests as unjust and accused EULEX of targeting the very people who had fought for the freedom of Kosovo.
“We reiterate that EULEX’s actions are baseless and irresponsible with the aim of smearing the liberation war and provoking tensions in Kosovo,” the war veteran’s association stated.
Hundreds of Pristina University students staged a protest march in the capital, which ended in front of the EULEX building.