On May 2, a mixed panel of two EULEX judges and one local judge of the District Court in Pristina acquitted Fatmir Limaj, the former commander of the KLA Kumanovo Unit, and three of his fellow soldiers of charges of crimes committed against Serbian civilians in the village of Klecka. Although EULEX Special Prosecutor Maurizio Salustro announced the appeal, Belgrade assessed that the acquittal of Limaj was a shameful and humiliating decision, primarily for victims. Ivana Subasic has more.
The acquittal of Limaj, under the pretext of the lack of evidence, shows that the judiciary in Kosovo and Metohija does not operate based on law and justice, but on the ethnic principle, it was outlined in Belgrade’s initial reactions. Our collocutors also agree that at issue is a political decision rather than a legal decision. Moreover, emphasized former commander of the joint security forces in the Land Security Zone, General Ninoslav Krstic, and Milan Mialkovski, professor of the School of Security Studies in Belgrade, no political will to prosecute criminals has been manifested by either Kosovo or the international community.
General Krstic was not surprised by the decision of the panel in the Limaj case. "Given that the trial was conducted by a EULEX judge who is British, a citizen of the country that takes a hardline position when it comes to the independence of Kosovo, and that Fatmir Limaj is one of the closest associates of Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and Vice President of his Democratic Party of Kosovo, a different decision could not have been expected, as it would mean the fall of the current government in Pristina, " says Krstic.
Professor Mialkovski’s criticism is even more severe when he says that EULEX, having decided to acquit Limaj, became complicit in the proven crimes against Serbian civilians in Kosovo and Metohija. "Once again EULEX has shown that it is completely biased and acting only in the interests of the current authorities in Pristina. Although according to the agreement, which defines its mission in Kosovo and Metohija, EULEX was obliged to investigate crimes committed against the Serbs and other non-Albanians and to prosecute the responsible KLA members, it has not happened yet, Mialkovski reminds.
Prosecutor Salustro announced that an appeal will be filed against first-instance decision. He did not accept the request of the panel in Pristina to change the indictment and to charge Limaj and three of his fellow soldiers with command responsibility.
General Krstic believes that the appeal will not decisively influence the final decision of the panel. "The outcome of this case, as in the earlier cases, greatly depend on the attitude of the most powerful players in the international community. However, there is something else, Krstic says. At the beginning of the so-called Kosovo crisis, the so-called KLA was designated a terrorist organization, but when the centers of power made a decision, they had it removed from a list of terrorist organizations. In this context, it is illusory to expect a fair trial, because big players in the international community now regards the KLA a liberation army. Therefore, even if someone is eventually convicted, that will be the actual perpetrators of crimes rather than those who issued such orders"- Krstic emphasized.
Reminding that the basic rule of Anglo-Saxon legal system is that crimes never become obsolete, Professor Mialkovski raised a question whether the U.K., for example, would pardon an Irish terrorist, despite solid evidence that he was responsible for the murder of British citizens. Although the objective of international missions in the Balkans is to establish peace and stability in the region, with their unilateral approach to solving the Kosovo problem, they side with the radical Albanian Islamists and encourage extremists to launch broad actions. The latest developments in Macedonia indicate this as well, warns Professor Milan Mialkovski.