EU Kosovo authorities arrest suspected war criminals
EU Kosovo authorities arrest suspected war criminals
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[JURIST] The European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) [official website] on Wednesday arrested nine suspects [press release], all former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), on suspicions of committing war crimes during the 1998-1999 war in Kosovo [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. Included in the arrest was Fatmir Limaj, a former commander of the KLA and prominent political figure in Kosovo, although he was released the next day. The government [official website] released a statement [Koha Ditore report, in Albanian] in support of the KLA members:

[The] Kosovo Liberation Army and people of Kosovo have developed just war, pure, to respect international norms and standards.The Government of Kosovo considers that any attempt to smear the KLA fighters will fail this time. The Government of Kosovo is satisfied that these allegations will be proven as unfounded and distasteful, because the liberation struggle of the KLA was to defend the country and our people.

Thousands of students also protested the arrests [Kosova Press report, in Albanian] on Thursday, and several government officials made statements decrying the arrests as pandering to Serbia. The KLA was instrumental in beginning the Kosovo war for liberation, by campaigning against the Yugoslav military forces. It disbanded in 1999, with members joining other military organizations or entering political office.

EULEX has been investigating war crimes since December 2008, most recently arresting alleged war criminals [JURIST reports] in May 2010. 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. Recently, the Council of Europe and the UN Security Council [JURIST reports] have 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 [text] went into effect [JURIST report] in June.