17 September 2013
This afternoon at the Basic Court of Prishtinë/Priština a panel of two EULEX judges and one Kosovo judge, presided over by a EULEX judge acquitted the defendants, Arben Krasniqi, Naser Krasniqi, Naser Shala, Nexhmi Krasniqi, Fatmir Limaj, Behlul Limaj, Shaban Shala, Sabit Shala, Besim Shurdhaj and Refki Mazreku of War Crimes and related offences in the so-called "Klecka" case. The trial panel also terminated the measure of reporting at a police station in respect of all defendants and ordered their passports be returned to them.
17 September 2013
In reaction to the verdict in the Klecka Case, EULEX Head of the Special Prosecution Office of Kosovo, Jonathan Ratel said:
"The prosecution recognizes the judgment of the court today. The court has rendered its verdict in this very difficult and long running prosecution. We respect the judgment of the court. We knew this would be a difficult prosecution from the beginning. However justice requires that difficult prosecutions go ahead also, in fact it demands it. We will be reviewing the judgment carefully and we will consider our rights to appeal. Finally I would like to state that this case was never about a prosecution of the KLA, it was a prosecution of certain individuals".
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The trial panel considered the Prosecution case rested substantially on the evidence of the now deceased, cooperative witness, Agim Zogaj. However, the trial panel decided his evidence on important matters in issue, especially the identity of the persons he alleged had committed the offences charged, was not corroborated by reliable, independent evidence and was, in fact, inconsistent and contradicted by other evidence. Overall, the trial Panel found that, in important material respects, the evidence of Agim Zogaj was wholly unreliable and that it would be unsafe to rely upon it to convict the defendants of the offences in the indictment. The fully-reasoned judgment will be delivered within thirty days.
However, the trial panel also found as matters of fact that:
(1) In 1999 the KLA operated a detention centre in the village of Klecka.
(2) Some detainees were mistreated during their detention in Klecka.
(3) Dragoljub Tanasković, Žarko Filipović, Života Todorović, Dragan Vučetić and Bojan Cvetković were unlawfully killed and their bodies interred at site KER01 in the village of Klecka.
(4) Veljko Marković and Nebojša Ɖuričić were unlawfully killed and their bodies interred at site KEQ01 in the village of Klecka.
(5) Arben Avdyli, who Agim Zogaj stated was also killed in in Klecka, is officially listed as missing.
The case was prosecuted by a EULEX prosecutor from the Special Prosecution Office of Kosovo. All parties have the right to appeal.