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Chief judge of EU Kosovo mission resigns alleging corruption

[JURIST] The chief judge of the EU's rule of law mission in Kosovo, Malcom Simmons, resigned Thursday over frustrations with corruption, he alleged in an interview [text, in French] with the French newspaper Le Monde.

The mission, known as EULEX, exists to promote the rule of law in Kosovo, mentor lawyers and judges in that young nation's justice system, and participate in trying sensitive cases, specifically war crimes.

The British judge Simmons says the reality of EULEX is a political mission backed by the EU. Before becoming the mission's chief judge he was pressured by then chief judge Charles Smith to reach of verdict of condemnation in the war crimes case against former guerrilla leader Fatmir Limaj in order to prevent Limaj from standing in elections. Simmons also alleges absenteeism on the part of several other judges who nevertheless continued to collect their salaries. And most recently he accused another judge of hacking his email and discussing it with other members of the mission as part of an effort to further his relationship with another judge.

Simmons reported these instances of corruption to UK and EU foreign affairs authorities but received either silence or refusal to investigate. He claims this lack of investigation is meant to protect the image of the mission and preserve the EU's influence in Kosovo. EULEX issued a response [press release] denying Simmons' allegations and announcing that Simmons himself has been under investigation for corruption.

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