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EULEX Kosovo prosecutor indicts 15 people for war crimes

A European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) [official website] prosecutor in the Kosovo Special Prosecution Office filed an indictment [press release] against 15 defendants on Friday in the EULEX Mitrovica Basic Court [OSCE backgrounder, PDF]. The individuals are accused of war crimes against civilians that occurred at a Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) [BBC backgrounder] detention center in Likovac in 1998. The offenses include torture, mistreatment of prisoners and murder. The alleged crimes took place during the 1998 Kosovo conflict [BBC backgrounder] when mass protests in the small autonomous Serbian province resulted in a violent government crackdown. In response to the widespread commission of war crimes during the conflict, EULEX was created in 2008 [JURIST report] to assist in the effort of bringing perpetrators to justice. Various courts and organizations have been dedicated to prosecuting war crimes committed on both sides of the conflict, resulting in convictions of both Serbian and Kosovan [JURIST reports] participants. Kosovo officially seceded [JURIST report] from Serbia in 2008.

Investigations and prosecutions of these crimes are continually ongoing and sometimes difficult to resolve. Fatmir Limaj, an ally of Prime Minister Hashim Thaci [official website] was acquitted [JURIST report] by EULEX in September for the third time after his retrial began [JURIST report] in April. In May the Kosovo Police Special Operations Unit ROSU arrested [JURIST report] five individuals suspected for commission of war crimes, including another close ally of the Prime Minister, Sami Lushtaku, mayor of the town of Skenderaj in Kosovo. In October 2011 EULEX sentenced [JURIST report] a former Albanian fighter of the KLA and in September charged [JURIST report] 10 other KLA members with war crimes. In June 2009 Amnesty International criticized [JURIST report] international efforts to prosecute war crimes from the 1998 conflict, claiming that many human rights abuses have not been investigated and have gone unpunished and that nearly 2000 people are still unaccounted for from the conflict.

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