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Friday, September 23, 2011

EU judge places senior Kosovo politician under house arrest on suspicion of war crimes
John Paul Putney at 8:13 AM ET

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[JURIST] An EU judge on Thursday placed senior Kosovo politician and parliamentarian Fatmir Limaj under house arrest for one month while awaiting trial on charges of war crimes stemming from the 1998-99 Kosovo war with Serbia [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive], acting on a request by prosecutors for the European Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) [official website]. Limaj allegedly ordered two captured Serb policemen executed and tortured another [AP report] Serbian captive in 1999. Limaj is also under investigation for embezzling funds while serving as transport minister. An influential figure in the ruling Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) [official website, in Albanian], Limaj was excluded from a cabinet position [VOA report] following international pressure not to include corrupt officials, but was elected into the Kosovo parliament. Limaj is an ex-member of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and is viewed as a liberator [Reuters report] by ethnic Albanians. In 2005, Limaj was acquitted of similar charges by a war crimes tribunal in The Hague because of insufficient evidence. The start date of the current trial remains unclear.

EULEX has been investigating war crimes [JURIST report] since December 2008. Earlier this month, EULEX charged 10 former members of the KLA [JURIST report], including Fatmir Limaj, with war crimes for their actions during the 1998-1999 war in Kosovo. In May 2010, EU police arrested a former member of the KLA for suspected war crimes violations [JURIST report]. A case came to trial [JURIST report] in March 2009, resulting in a guilty verdict against a Kosovo Albanian for charges of murder, attempted murder and grievous bodily harm. The trial of two Serbian defendants was derailed [JURIST report] that month by hundreds of Serbian protesters and postponed indefinitely. Earlier this year, the Council of Europe and the UN Security Council [JURIST reports] considered allegations of organ trafficking by the KLA during the war. Kosovo controversially seceded from Serbia [JURIST report] in February 2008 and its new constitution went into effect [JURIST report] later that year.

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