By Linda Karadaku
Kosovo’s revised penal code provides harsher punishment for terrorism, corruption and financial crimes, in an effort to reform the judicial system in accordance with European standards.
“The definitions in the new code related to terrorism are great help for law enforcement because they exclude any uncertainty and voluntary interpretation,” Kosovo Chief State Prosecutor in charge of the terrorist cases prosecution, Ismet Kabashi, said.
“With these provisions, all possible ways of carrying out such offences are fully covered and foreseen, ranging from the perpetrator’s actions, assistant, facilitator and inciter in the act of terrorism,” Kabashi told SETimes.
The legislation was approved by the government last October, but was not made public until February. It redefines what constitutes a terrorist group and requires anyone convicted of an act of terrorism to serve at least five years in prison.
“These dispositions are in harmony with the activities and measures of the international community to tackle this type of crime as a global threat,” Kabashi told SETimes.
He added that with the new penal code, Kosovo legislation will harmonise dispositions with the relevant international documents dealing with the fight against terrorism.
The new code specifies that when an offense results in grievous bodily injury of one or more persons, the perpetrator will be sentenced to no less than ten years in prison. When the offense results in death of one or more persons, the perpetrator shall be sentenced to at least 15 years in prison.
Those assisting in acts of terrorism will be punished by imprisonment of six months to five years, and whoever assists the perpetrator by providing funds or other resources will receive sentences of three to ten years in jail.
The new code foresees imprisonment of five to 15 years for anyone who directly or indirectly provides, solicits, collects or conceals funds or material resources for a terrorist group or for the commission of a terrorist act.
“The articles on terrorism in the new penal code are important because Kosovo is included legally in the penal prosecution of terrorism as a global threat. It is also important that, although we are far from the EU integration, this is a standard that furthers on the EU integration path,” Kosovo lawyer Azem Vllasi told SETimes.
Vllasi added that Kosovo does not see any particular threat from terrorism. “These new articles are not related to any particular threat for Kosovo, but this [terrorism] is a global evil, and we are getting closer to global standards in legally prosecuting this global evil,” he told SETimes.
“Terrorism is becoming a threat to the entire globe and it has the potential to also affect Kosovo,” Ardian Arifaj, senior researcher and co-ordinator for the Kosovo KIPRED Institute said.
“Unfortunately, persons originally from Kosovo have been accused and sentenced for involvement in terrorist acts. Kosovo should also be ready to face this challenge,” Arifaj told SETimes.