THE HAGUE, Netherlands ( Associated Press) – A former Kosovo Liberation Army commander was indicted Friday for arbitrarily detaining and torturing prisoners believed to be pro-Serbian sympathizers and killing one of them during the country’s war for independence. Convicted.
This is the first war crimes trial by a special court established in the Netherlands.
Commander Salih Mustafa was sentenced to 26 years in prison in April 1999 for crimes committed at the KLA compound in Zalash, Kosovo. He was acquitted in a case of abuse of prisoners. He had pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Friday’s decision coincides with a tense moment in relations between Kosovo and neighboring Serbia. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Thursday called for the withdrawal of his country’s security forces in the former Serbian province despite Western warnings that such calls would not be accepted and would only fuel tensions from across the Balkans in that region.
Mustafa was arrested in Kosovo in 2020 and sent to the Netherlands to stand trial before the Special Court of Kosovo, an EU-backed branch of the country’s legal system created specifically to address allegations of war crimes committed Went. When ethnic Albanian rebels united in Kosovo, the Liberation Army waged a bloody war of independence from Serbia in 1998 and 1999.
The presiding judge, Mapie Veldt-Foglia, called the decision a “milestone for the Special Court” which could lead to “future reconciliation between the communities in Kosovo”.
The victims were accused by KLA members of collaborating with Serbs or of not supporting the army.