22 June 2021
With reference to recent allegations that the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) handed over war crimes files to the Serbian prosecution authorities, the Mission wishes to stress that the allegations are not true.
EULEX has never handed over any war crimes case to the Serbian prosecution authorities, nor did it give up authority over investigative files and cases.
Throughout EULEX’s executive mandate, the Mission strived to ensure accountability for war crimes committed in Kosovo. However, until the end of EULEX’s executive mandate in June 2018, the Mission could not proceed with cases for war crimes allegedly committed by individuals who were outside Kosovo, including suspects known to be living in Serbia, because the applicable Kosovo law did not allow for trials in absentia.
In their effort to ensure accountability for war crimes allegedly committed by individuals who were believed to be outside Kosovo, EULEX prosecutors occasionally shared information on these individuals with prosecution services of other jurisdictions, including but not limited to the prosecution authorities of Serbia. In line with the Kosovo law, until June 2014 EULEX Prosecutors exchanged information with and rendered assistance to the Serbian authorities, in the presence of Kosovo prosecutors, on several war crimes cases. Between 2014 and 2018, as the Mission’s mandate changed, this practice was gradually discontinued.
Under all circumstances, the cooperation with the Serbian authorities, which has led to a first-instance judgement pronouncing nine defendants guilty of the commission of the criminal offence of a war crime against the civilian population, was based on relevant provisions in the applicable Kosovo criminal procedure code as well as legislation on international legal cooperation in criminal matters.
Throughout this period of cooperation, all original war crimes files remained in the possession of EULEX, and these were subsequently handed over to the Kosovo authorities after the end of EULEX’s executive mandate. More specifically, by December 2018 EULEX handed over to the Kosovo authorities 495 organized crime police case files, 434 war crime police case files, missing persons' case files, judicial case files handled only by EULEX, and more than 1.400 prosecutorial case files. The prosecutorial case files consisted of ongoing cases, cases which were dismissed or terminated, and cases which were completed and archived by EULEX. Most of these case files are related to war crimes, organized crime, corruption and other serious crimes.