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EU police in Kosovo arrest alleged political murderer

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(PRISTINA) - EU police in Kosovo arrested on Monday a man claiming to have been ordered by officials from the prime minister's party to murder political rivals after the 1998-1999 war, an EU mission spokesman said.

Nazim Bllaca "is arrested by EULEX police and accused of murder and organised crime," said Christophe Lamfalussy, a spokesman for EULEX, as the European Union mission is known.

He would be brought on Tuesday before a judge who will decide on his pretrial detention, Lamfalussy added.

Earlier on Monday, the spokesman said EULEX had opened a probe into Bllaca's claims and that "the case is in the hands of a special prosecutor."

The allegations became public over the weekend when a self-proclaimed assassin told local media he had been a member of an execution unit from the end of the war in mid-1999 to 2003.

Bllaca, 37, said the unit was part of the Kosovo Information Service (SHIK), an informal intelligence organisation, and claimed that he had taken part in 17 murders, attempted murders, beatings and other criminal acts.

He listed several names of senior SHIK figures who he said gave him orders and who were also high-ranking officials from Prime Minister Hashim Thaci's Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK).

Bllaca said he was told the targets were members of the Serbian intelligence service or those who had collaborated with them.

However, he said he later realised they were members of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) led by President Fatmir Sejdiu, currently in the government coalition with Thaci's party.

The PDK has dismissed the accusations as politically motivated.

At an extraordinary press conference held with Thaci on Monday, EULEX chief Yves de Kermabon said Bllaca was interrogated by prosecutors.

"Concerning the case, the person has been invited by EULEX prosecutor to be interviewed this afternoon. This interview is ongoing," Kermabon said at the time.

Thaci from his side promised those responsible would face justice.

"Every raised circumstance will be cleared up till the end. Neither accusers nor accused can elude responsibility," Thaci said.

Originating from the former pro-independence guerrilla forces of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), SHIK had been viewed as most closely associated with Thaci's party.

Thaci himself had been a prominent KLA commander during the 1998-1999 conflict with Serbian forces and later switched to politics, with the KLA disbanded after the war.

In June 2008, SHIK announced that it had ceased to exist.

Sejdiu has called for a speedy investigation into the matter.

"President Sejdiu insists that prosecution and justice organs of Kosovo and EULEX undertake all necessary actions in accordance with the law to uncover the facts offered in the declaration of this citizen," his office said in a statement.

Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in February 2008 and has been recognised by 63 countries.

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