Key Witness In Kosovo War Crimes Trial Found Dead


By Fatmir Aliu

Agim Zogaj, a key witness in the Klecka war crime case against former Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, Commander Fatmir Limaj and nine others, has been found dead in a park in Germany.

Blerim Krasniqi , a spokesman for the European Union rule-of-law mission in Kosovo, EULEX, told Balkan Insight: “EULEX can confirm that Agim Zogaj, known as the Witness X, in the Klecka case, is found dead in a park in Germany”.

Agim Zogaj is understood to have been a former KLA fighter who was under the command of Fatmir Limaj, the ruling Democratic Party’s of Kosovo, vice-president and a member of the Parliament. Codenamed “Witness X” while alive, it is not clear whether he was afforded any special witness protection programme.

Former government transport minister Fatmir Limaj was placed under house arrest for one month on September 22.

Last month, an indictment against Mr Limaj and nine other defendants in the in the so-called Kleçkë/Klečka case was confirmed and a main trial is expected to follow. The indictment charged the defendants with various counts of war crimes allegedly committed in 1999 at an improvised detention center located in the village of Kleçkë/Klečka.

Limaj handed himself in to the District court last week to attend a detention hearing.
The hearing took place after Kosovo’s Constitutional Court ruled earlier in September that parliamentarians are not immune from prosecution if sought by the law. The ruling came into effect two days later and made it possible for the former minister to be arrested.

EULEX prosecutors questioned Limaj in March but did not arrest him. Limaj is currently a member of parliament for the ruling Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, which is led by Prime Minister Hashim Thaci.

Limaj, who remains a popular figure in Kosovo, has already faced a war crimes trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia, ICTY. He was charged, along with Isak Musliu and Haradin Bala, with committing war crimes against Serbs and Albanians suspected of collaborating with Serbia during the Kosovo war.

But in November 2005 the ICTY acquitted him and he returned home to a hero’s welcome, with street celebrations in Kosovo’s capital, Pristina.

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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