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Serbia court sentences 9 Albanians for war crimes

Nine former ethnic Albanian guerrillas have been sentenced to a total of 101 years in prison [Reuters report] for killings committed after the Kosovo war [JURIST news archive] ended. Belgrade's War Crimes Chamber [HRW backgrounder] of the Senior Court said [press release, PDF] that the 1999 killings of 32 Serb and non-Albanian civilians were in addition to 153 cases of people being arrested, detained, tortured and later released. Three of the defendants will spend 15 years each in prison, four will spend 10 years and two were sentenced to eight years in jail. The defendants were officers in the Kosovo Liberation Army. [Global Security profile] Three of the defendants were sentenced in absentia, while everyone else was arrested two years ago. The defendants can appeal, but will remain in court custody throughout the process.

In September, the War Crimes Department of the Higher Court in Belgrade sentenced [JURIST report; press release, PDF] former paramilitary officer Zeljko Djukic to 20 years in prison for his involvement in the deaths of 14 civilians in March 1999 during the 1998-1999 Kosovo war. Djukic, a member of the Serbian paramilitary group known as Scorpion [JURIST news archive], was originally convicted [JURIST report] of the murders in June 2009. The conviction was overturned [JURIST report] earlier this year by a Serbian appeals court. The appeals court demanded a retrial for Djukic because the original verdict was based exclusively on testimony of a protected witness, which is against the Serbian Criminal Procedure Code [text, PDF].

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