AKI (Italy), March 22, 2012
Kosovo: 'Key evidence' against war crimes suspects rejected
Pristina, 22 March (AKI) - A Kosovo court has rejected a “key evidence” in the case of ten former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) soldiers suspected of war crimes and ordered their release from jail, pending final verdict, local media said on Thursday.
Fatmir Limaj, 41, vice-president of prime minister Hashim Thaci’s Democratic Party of Kosovo, and nine others have been charged with killing at least 22 Albanian and Serb civilians in detention camp in the village of Klecka during 1988\99 ethnic Albanian rebellion against Serbian rule.
Limaj, who is also an MP in Kosovo parliament, was indicted for war crimes in 2003 by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, but was set free two years later for “lack of evidence”.
Pristina trial was based on the statements and diaries of another former KLA soldier, Agim Zogaj, who described in detail the killings and torturing of Serbs and non-loyal Albanians in Klecka.
Zogaj was to be a key witness in the trial and was moved as protected witness to Germany. But he was found hanged in a park in Duisburg last year. German police concluded he committed suicide, but Zogaj’s family claims he was killed.
A panel of two European Union and one Kosovo judge ruled on Wednesday Zogaj’s evidence was unacceptable to the court, because the prosecutors had failed to “fulfill certain procedural standards”.
The detainees were set free and the court demanded that prosecutors and defense submit their closing arguments before the verdict was pronounced. Limaj has also been mentioned in a report of the Council of Europe investigator Dick Marty on alleged human organs trafficking in Kosovo during and after the war, but official investigation hasn’t moved much further.
Kosovo majority Albanians declared independence from Serbia in 2008 and former Serbian province has been recognized as an independent state by more than eighty counties, including the United States and 22 out of 27 European Union members.