Kosovo Officials See Politics Behind Limaj’s Arrest


By Fatmir Aliu

Kosovo’s judicial system is being influenced by politics, some members of the establishment in Pristina have claimed, in reaction to the decision to place former commander of the KLA Fatmir Limaj under house arrest Thursday.

Jakup Krasniqi, the Kosovo Assembly Speaker and a former military comrade of Limaj’s, has said today that politics had intervened in Limaj’s case.

“As long as politics intervenes in the judiciary system – and unfortunately politics has always acted so- the functioning of a normal judiciary is jeopardised,” Krasniqi said.

Yesterday evening, an international judge ruled that Limaj, the former transport minister in Kosovo, should be placed under house arrest for a period of one month. He also ruled that his diplomatic passport should be confiscated.

Krasniqi said that the decision to place Limaj under house arrest was not just the result of domestic policies. He said he felt that international politicians and diplomats were also to blame for interfering with Kosovo’s judicial system.

In August, a EULEX judge confirmed an indictment filed one month earlier at the District Court of Pristina regarding the Klecka case.

The indictment charged Limaj and nine other defendants with various counts of war crimes against the civilian population and prisoners of war allegedly committed from early 1999 until mid-June 1999. The main trial is expected to start during the autumn.

The decision to place Limaj under house arrest came hours after the Constitutional Court of Kosovo ruled that parliamentarians were not immune from being arrested if wanted for war crime charges.

However, Krasniqi insists that no war crimes were committed by KLA fighters.
Adem Grabovci, chief of parliamentary group the ruling Democratic Party of Kosovo, said that Limaj had proved his innocence in the ICTY in 2005 when he was tried and acquitted of war crimes charges.

The Vetevendosje Movement [Self-determination] also raised concerns about the timeframe of implementing the Constitutional Court’s ruling.

It cited the fact that decisions made by the constitutional court are usually published in Kosovo’s official gazette before being brought into force. Publication in the official gazette normally takes 15 days however Limaj was placed under house arrest 24 hours after the decision was announced.

Glauk Konjufca, a representative from the Vetevendosje Movement, said that the Constitutional Court’s decision paved the way to “creating a police state, and allow the Prime Minister, and the government, to shut the mouth of the representatives of the people [members of the Parliament]”.

Meanwhile, the opposition Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, said it supported Limaj’s cooperation with the judiciary, according to Ismet Beqiri the party general secretary.

Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (formerly 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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