EULEX judges sentence former KLA fighter for 1998 shooting
EU judges have ruled that an ex-guerilla committed war crimes when he shot at a family that was fleeing through a KLA checkpoint.
(Reuters, AP, AFP, DPA, Deutsche Welle, AKI, B92 – 04/02/09; BBC – 03/02/09)
In the first war crimes trial held under the auspices of EULEX, a man has received a 17-year prison sentence. [EULEX]
A former member of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) received a 17-year prison sentence over a shooting incident in 1998, the EU’s rule-of-law mission, EULEX, said on Wednesday (March 4th). The announcement came after the completion of the first war crimes trial under the mission’s auspices.
A three-member panel, including two international judges and one from Kosovo, found Gani Gashi, 59, „guilty of murder, attempted murder and grievous bodily harm“, EULEX said in a statement.
On July 12th, 1998, Gashi was manning a checkpoint in central Kosovo, set up by the Kosovo Liberation Army — then a guerilla group waging an armed campaign against the Serbian authorities. A Kosovo Albanian family, attempting to flee the fighting between the militants and Serbian forces, passed through the checkpoint but failed to stop. Gashi then opened fire.
One member of the Obrija family — the father — died in the incident. His wife, son and grandchild suffered severe wounds.
„By this act, Gani Gashi committed the criminal offence of war crime against the civilian population, punishable by Kosovo and international law,“ the judges said in their ruling Tuesday.
The KLA, which began targeting police stations, government offices and other Serbian-run institutions in 1996, was for a time on the US State Department’s list of terrorist groups. It was believed to have received much of its funding from narcotics trafficking, and to have maintained links with Osama bin Laden’s terror network, al-Qaeda.
According to the NGO Human Rights Watch, KLA members perpetrated „serious abuses“, including the abductions and murders of Serb civilians as well as Kosovo Albanians perceived as collaborators or as uncooperative with the guerilla group’s aims.
Them murder and Terrorist Organisation: UCK – KLA
Erster Kriegsverbrecherprozess der EU-Mission im Kosovo