Kosovo ex-rebel turned lawmaker detained over war crimes
(PRISTINA) - A top ethnic Albanian guerilla commander-turned-politician, accused of committing war crimes against Serb and Albanian civilians and prisoners-of-war in the 1998-1999 conflict, was put back in detention Saturday, the EU mission in Kosovo (EULEX) said.
Fatmir Limaj, a lawmaker and deputy president of prime minister Hashim Thaci's ruling Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), and three other co-defendants, were detained on remand for a month pending a retrial on the war crimes charges under an EU-led supreme court ruling earlier this week following their acquital in May by a lower court, EULEX said in a statement.
A EULEX judge ordered the detentions considering "grounded suspicion that the accused committed the crimes they were charged with, the risk of flight and the risk of tampering with evidence existed in respect of all accused in view of the fact they were charged with very serious alleged criminal offences," the statement said.
The date for the retrial in the so-called "Klecka case", seen as one of the highest-profile war crimes cases in Kosovo so far, has yet to be set.
The lower court found Limaj and the three other former high-ranking members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) not guilty for the 1999 torture and killing of ethnic Serb and Albanian civilians at a detention camp near the central Kosovo village of Klecka.
Limaj was the commander of the camp set up by the KLA rebels.
The case marks the first time a top KLA commander who fought the forces of then Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic has been tried for war crimes before the local judiciary.
The war, which claimed around 13,000 lives, ended when a NATO-led air campaign ousted Milosevic's forces in June 1999.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008. Just months later, Brussels launched the EULEX mission to strengthen the rule of law and assist the local judiciary in tackling the most sensitive cases.