Kosovo’s Political Murders: Unpunished but Not Forgotten

Hits: 609

The first thing you hear is the slow-moving clatter of a wheelchair. Then comes his voice. Fetah Rudi survived an attempted assassination which left him paralysed for life, and has spent more than 17 years suffering the consequences.

Kosovo Liberation Army – A Balkan Islamic fundamentalist terrorist organization a la Hezbollah

In June 1999, Rudi was one of the Kosovo Albanians who was detained and tortured in a Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA prison.

A few months later in December 2000, Rudi – a member of the Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, which at the time was President Ibrahim Rugova’s party – became a target during the violence that erupted after the war.

Fifty-four-year old Rudi said that it all started at the beginning of June 1999, after the KLA’s headquarters issued an arrest warrant.

“With my hands tied, they beat me for two days inside a toilet that I was sharing with two other people,” he told BIRN from his home in the village of Rud in the Malisheva/Malishevo area.

He was arrested for refusing to provide help to the KLA. But he insists that his only fault was that he belonged to Ibrahim Rugova’s party.

“After being sentenced to three months’ imprisonment, I was sent to a garage in the village of Kasterc. I was kept prisoner there for 16 days and that only ended because NATO entered Kosovo [in June 1999],” he said.

NATO’s intervention ended the war, forced Serbian forces to pull out of Kosovo and led to the demilitarisation of the KLA. But political violence continued amid the rivalry between Rugova’s LDK and the Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, which was established by leading figures from the KLA.

There had already been tensions during wartime because the LDK’s military wing, the Kosovo Armed Forces, FARK, which had also fought against Belgrade’s rule, but separately from the KLA.

On December 15, 2000, the day he was shot, Rudi was returning from a meeting of the heads of the LDK party’s branches.

The first post-war local elections in Kosovo had just been held and political tensions were high in the Malisheva/Malishevo municipality because the margin between the LDK and the PDK was very narrow as councillors prepared to vote to choose the head of the local executive.

Rudi said that he was going from the meeting to vote when the attack happened.

“First, a machine gun barrage stopped the car. Then I saw three people inside a red [Vauxhall] Astra who shot in my direction. I even saw their faces. I understood later who two of them were,” he recalled.

But over 17 years afterwards, no one has yet been convicted of attacking him – highlighting how courts in Kosovo have failed to effectively deal with politically-motivated post-war murders and assaults.

“There is no dilemma about who the perpetrators [of the attack] are. It was an extension of the sentence pronounced against me during the war,” Rudi said.

Kosovo Liberation Army: August 1998, village of Klechka in Kosovo. Beheaded persons are local Serbian civilians

Prey for armed gangs

A report by Amnesty International in 2009 estimated that some 800 murders were committed during a prolonged outbreak of violence against Serbs and other ethnic minorities and LDK party members in the period when Kosovo was under UN administration after Serbian forces withdrew.

The majority of people who were allegedly kidnapped by KLA members and then disappeared during the wider period from 1998 to 2000 were either Serbs or Kosovo Albanians labelled as collaborators with Serbia.

“Members of the Democratic League of Kosovo were also murdered by KLA fighters, who considered the non-violent doctrine of the LDK equal to collaboration [with Serbia],” Jean-Christian Cady, the Head of Justice at the UN Mission in Kosovo, UNMIK, from 2000 to 2004, told BIRN.

Cady said that the establishment of a new judicial system in Kosovo by UNMIK was mostly a failure.

“UNMIK did not succeed in protecting the witnesses. We did not manage to find a country willing to receive the relocated witnesses. To succeed, a guarantee for them is needed and also to use the same techniques that are used for example in Italy for the collaborating criminals [in mafia cases],” Cady explained.

Former UN officials like Cady describe a situation in which post-war Kosovo became prey to uncontrollable armed gangs that committed an increasing number of crimes.

Over the past 17 years, Rudi has gone through hundreds of medical check-ups and treatments – but only twice has he been questioned by international prosecutors.

The first time he was questioned by an UNMIK prosecutor in 2001. In 2011, he was questioned by a prosecutor from the EU’s rule-of-law mission in Kosovo, EULEX.

The attack on Rudi happened less than a month after Xhemail Mustafa, an adviser to LDK chief Rugova, was assassinated. Mustafa was shot in the entrance to the building where he lived in Pristina in November 2000.

“While giving my statement to EULEX, an Italian prosecutor explained to me that forensic expertise has found that one of the bullets that had hit me had come from the same gun that was used to murder Xhemail Mustafa,” Rudi said.

EULEX declined to respond to BIRN’s question about which political assassinations the European mission has prosecuted so far.

“EULEX cannot provide information about an ongoing investigation or investigation pertaining to the Office of the Special Prosecutor,” said a spokesperson.

EULEX prosecutors have not yet transferred any cases related to politically-motivated murders to Kosovo prosecutors.

“Everything is linked not only to friction during wartime but also to the reputation and influence of the LDK after the war. By eliminating some of Rugova’s closest associates, they [former KLA fighters] sought to weaken the LDK and rise to power,” Rudi alleged.

Kosovo’s mafia

New court, new hope?

As the years passed, Rudi’s hopes of getting justice decreased.

A new court backed by the European Union, operating under Kosovo laws but located in the Netherlands with international judges, was established in 2015 to deal with wartime crimes and political and ethnic murders perpetrated in the period between January 1998 and December 2000.

Clint Williamson was the head of the EU’s Special Investigative Task Force, which was in charge of investigating allegations about these crimes which were initially raised by a Council of Europe report. He said after his probe was complete in 2014 that it had found that certain elements of the KLA had been involved in violence and threats against Kosovo Albanian political opponents.

“These individuals bear responsibility for a campaign of persecution that was directed against the ethnic Serb, Roma, and other minority populations of Kosovo and toward fellow Kosovo Albanians who they labelled either to be collaborators with Serbs or, more commonly, simply to have been political opponents of the KLA leadership,” Williamson told a press conference in Brussels.

The new Hague-based court – the Kosovo Specialist Chambers – is expected to issue its first indictments this year, raising the hopes of victims like Fetah Rudi.

“I have confidence that this court will be different,” Rudi said.

Reopening old wounds

The new investigation into the post-war violence in Kosovo has meant the reopening of old wounds for some people.

Shpetim Hajdaraj, whose father Smajl Hajdaraj was killed in January 2002, expects that the new court will examine his case too, although the mandate of the Specialist Chambers does not extend to the time when the murder was committed.

“There are indications and testimonies that his murder is part of a scenario that was planned in advance, although he was murdered later,” explained Hajdaraj.

Smajl Hajdaraj, an MP with the LDK and a former member of Rugova’s FARK – a rival to the KLA – was murdered 37 days after he gave his oath as a deputy in the post-war Kosovo’s first legislature.

The only allegedly political post-war murder case that the judiciary took further was the killing of Ekrem Rexha, a former senior member of the KLA, known during the war by his alias ‘Drini’. He was murdered in May 2000 in front of his house in Prizren.

Two KLA members stood trial for the killing, but were acquitted (see the prosecution’s final arguments in the trial here). Ekrem Rexha’s brother, Ruzhdi Rexha, insisted that the murder was politically motivated.

“People suspected of the murder of Drini are now part of at least two political parties. I would not link them with just one political party,” Rexha told BIRN.

He also claimed that “evidence was disregarded” and raised suspicions that international officials wanted the case to fade away quietly.

“When the court acquitted the accused, the other prosecutor did not appeal,” he said.

Only one of numerous destroyed Serbian Orthodox churches in Kosovo by Muslim Albanian mob after June 1999

Prioritising stability over justice?

Almost two decades on, the inability of the UN mission in Kosovo to deal with the post-war violence is clear, says former UNMIK official Cady.

“The mission was unable to fight the growing crime rates, the robberies, or to prevent political and ethnic crimes,” he said.

While the UNMIK and EULEX missions did not manage to impose punishment on anyone for the post-war political murders, the killings have become a discordant refrain in Kosovo politics, causing a continuing series of accusations and counter-accusations.

The LDK has alleged that the PDK, alongside the so-called Kosovo Information Service, SHIK, a former service secret organisation which was close to its political rival, the PDK, was behind the murders of its members.

These allegations have been denied by PDK members including the former head of SHIK, Kadri Veseli, who is now the speaker of the Kosovo Assembly.

Jakup Krasniqi, the KLA’s former spokesperson, who has long been one of the most senior figures in the PDK, said that after the war, many people perpetrated crimes in the name of the KLA without having ever been part of it.

“Attributing many post-war murders to the KLA without any verification or verdict is an injustice,” Krasniqi told BIRN.

Krasniqi also described the LDK’s claims as ridiculous, particularly in light of the fact that the party signed a deal with its rivals in the PDK in 2014 to form a coalition government.

“Such accusations are made in an attempt to represent themselves as victims. In 2014, the LDK vested the highest power in the same people it used to accuse of murder – the president and the speaker of the Assembly [Kadri Veseli],” he said.

The former president of the LDK, Fatmir Sejdiu, claimed however that during and after the war, members of the party were targets for revenge due to its political stance, and the crimes were not prosecuted because UNMIK wanted to calm the situation in Kosovo.

“The assassinations of the LDK members were not prosecuted in an attempt to preserve some sort of stability or peace during their mandate,” said Sejdiu.

The Kosovo Special Prosecutor’s Office said it has recently questioned some people about the murders of Xhemail Mustafa and Enver Maloku and the attempted assassination of former President Ibrahim Rugova in 2005, but without any results.

“In their statements, the persons we questioned did not provide any information to enable the initiation of an investigation into any individual,” the Special Prosecutor’s Office told BIRN.

The Special Prosecutor’s Office also said that the new Specialist Chambers in The Hague has not asked to be sent any cases that were being handled by Kosovo prosecutors.

Meanwhile Fetah Rudi is still suffering the consequences of being hit by 14 bullets, and the climate of impunity created in Kosovo by the lack of convictions persists.

Rudi expressed hope that the Specialist Chambers will soon take action to ensure justice for the victims of the post-war political violence.

“As time passes, facts may become blurred, but I have not forgotten anything,” he said.

Kosovostan: one of many newly built mosques in Kosovo after June 1999

Originally published on 2018-03-06

Author: Serbeze Haxhiaj

Source: Balkan Transitional Justice

Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection & Pinterest.

Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!

Donate to Support Us

We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.

[wpedon id=”4696″ align=”left”]

Kosovo Albanians as members of ISIS/ISIL/DAESH/IS in Syria 2016
 
READ MORE!
The USA from 1776 onward
Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement! Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection & Pinterest. Donate to Support Us We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations. [wpedon id="4696" align="left"]
READ MORE
Great Expectations for Kaunas, as City is Named 2022 “Capital of European Culture”
Congratulations to the city of Kaunas, Lithuania, once known also as Kovno (in Yiddish Kóvne) on its selection as Europe’s “Capital of European Culture” in 2022, sharing the title with Esch-sur-Alzette in Luxembourg.The city’s leaders now have a splendid opportunity to take the moral high road in dealing with a number of ghosts from the present and the past. To start with the present, will the city’s officials now act rapidly to avoid a public perception disaster by moving this year’s neo-Nazi parade away from the city center during the February 16th Independence Day celebrations? Previous years’ marches have on occasion glorified actual Kaunas Holocaust collaborators, causing deep pain to Survivors ...
READ MORE
Trump, Brexit and the Collapse of the Liberal Order
One of the most confounding aspects of Donald Trump’s election as 45th President of the United States is that in the space of a year – indeed less than a year – a man with zero political experience has destroyed two of America’s most entrenched political dynasties: Bush and Clinton.Just pause on this for a moment, and place it in the context of someone who when he first appeared on the political stage as a candidate for the Republican nomination was met with ridicule and scorn. Consequently, a mainstream media and liberal commentators for whom politics is an exclusive club, ...
READ MORE
Building new mosques in Kosovo after the Kosovo War in 1998-1999
Editor:  Little did I know when I posted a short news story about the ‘invasion of Hungary’ last evening that the situation in Kosovo has become untenable and a mass exodus was so advanced.  ‘Pungentpeppers’ has again pulled many threads together to give us the big picture of what is happening in Eastern Europe.  Is the US responsible?  An Austrian political leader says so! Mass exodus from Muslim Kosovo into Europe ~150,000 or more Kosovars on the move since summer ~Hungarian Police catch 1,000 Kosovars daily – a small fraction of the total ~Hungarian mayor calls for fence as Kosovars overwhelm village ~Austrian politician blames ...
READ MORE
Yalta, 1945: The Impact on Yugoslavia
What was the impact of the 1945 Yalta Conference on Yugoslavia? The key result of the conference for Yugoslavia was that it endorsed and ratified the 1944 agreement between Josip Broz Tito and Ivan Subasic. The end result was that the American, British, and Soviet governments installed a dictatorship in Yugoslavia. The Allied task was the illusory and chimerical objective of uniting the prewar, monarchist Yugoslav Government-in-Exile based in London headed by Peter II Karadjordjevich with Tito’s de facto anti-monarchist, Soviet-style, Communist government in Belgrade. This was the major issue that was discussed at plenary meetings and foreign ministers sessions at ...
READ MORE
Disobedient Hungary: From the Soviet Union to the European Union
CNN recently discovered a paradox.  How was it possible, they asked, that in 1989, Viktor Orban, at the time a Western-acclaimed liberal opposition leader, was calling for Soviet troops to leave Hungary, and now that he is Prime Minister, he is cozying up to Vladimir Putin? For the same reason, dummy. Orban wanted his country to be independent then, and he wants it to be independent now. In 1989, Hungary was a satellite of the Soviet Union.  Whatever Hungarians wanted, they had to follow directives from Moscow and adhere to Soviet communist ideology. Today, Hungary is ordered to follow directives from Brussels and adhere ...
READ MORE
27 Years since the Massacre of Serbian Civilians in Bosnia
In Kukavica village near Rogatica (nowadays Bosnia and Herzegovina), today was marked 27 years since crimes against Serbian civilians committed by Bosnian Muslims, members of the so-called Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina on August 27, 1992.In an attack on a column of Serbian civilians, involving about 1,000 elderly people, women and children on tractors and passenger vehicles, Bosnian Muslim extremists killed 26 and injured 80 Serbs.Rogatica Mayor Milorad Jagodic called this a monstrous crime as among the victims are a child of 11 and 82 years old man.“This was a column of innocent people who were looking for refuge and ...
READ MORE
The “Non-Citizens” of the Baltic States: Α European Scandal Nobody Speaks about!
The negotiations on Brexit are attracting a lot of attention. In particular, the possible erosion of the rights of around three million EU-27 citizens living in Britain is a major cause for concern.The European Parliament resolution adopted on 3 October states that “the withdrawal agreement must incorporate the full set of rights citizens currently enjoy, such that there is no material change in their position”.The main author of this text, Mr Guy Verhofstadt, the EP Brexit Coordinator, argues that such an approach – not to lower the level of citizens’ rights – is “the goal of democracy”. But why was ...
READ MORE
US Imperialism Wages Permanent Warfare to Prevent its Inevitable Collapse
The US has always been a warfare state. However, the character of US imperialist warfare has changed dramatically. For over two centuries, the US regime’s purpose for war, whether on indigenous peoples, Black people, or nations all over the world, was to expand the productive forces of capitalist exploitation. War preceded the vast profits accumulated from chattel slavery, land grab, and resource extraction in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The foundation of white supremacy and capitalism allowed the US regime to consolidate its expansion despite episodes of periodic crisis. Recent events, alongside a steady fall in the rate of capitalist profit, indicate ...
READ MORE
The Demolition of U.S. Global Power
The superhighway to disaster is already being paved.From Donald Trump’s first days in office, news of the damage to America’s international stature has come hard and fast. As if guided by some malign design, the new president seemed to identify the key pillars that have supported U.S. global power for the past 70 years and set out to topple each of them in turn. By degrading NATO, alienating Asian allies, cancelling trade treaties, and slashing critical scientific research, the Trump White House is already in the process of demolishing the delicately balanced architecture that has sustained Washington’s world leadership since ...
READ MORE
Never to Forget: 1999 – NATO’s War on Yugoslavia
On the occasion of 20th anniversary of the aggression of NATO Alliance against Serbia (the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the FRY), on 22nd and 23rd March 2019 Belgrade was the venue of the International Conference under slogan NEVER TO FORGET, and title “Peace and Progress instead of Wars and Poverty”. The organisers of the Conference are the Belgrade Forum for the World of Equals, the Federation of Associations of Veterans of the National Liberation War of Serbia, the Serbian Generals and Admirals Club, the Society of the Serbian Hosts, in cooperation with the World Peace Council. Besides the participants from Serbia, the Conference ...
READ MORE
Donald Trump – Not My President!
Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection, Public Domain & Pinterest.Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!Donate to Support UsWe would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics, and international relations.[wpedon id="4696" align="left"]Save
READ MORE
The Myth of “Aggressive Russia”
Recently I went on a 15 day visit to Russia organized by the Center for Citizen Initiatives. The group visited Moscow, the Crimean peninsula, Krasnodar (southern Russia) and St. Petersburg. In each location we met many locals and heard diverse viewpoints. CCI has a long history promoting friendship and trying to overcome false assumptions between citizens of the USA and Russia. The founder Sharon Tennison has focused on making people-people connections including the business community, Rotary clubs, etc.. This delegation was organized because of concern about escalating international tensions and the danger of a drift toward world threatening military conflict. We ...
READ MORE
Was Israel Under Existential Threat in June 1967?
Up to June 1967, a border separated Jews living in Israel and Palestinians residing in the West Bank and Gaza. The Six Day War, which occurred exactly fifty years ago, erased that line. Israel has been occupying these territories ever since. This has been the source of an endless conflict between Jews and Arabs. Who started that war? Having won the war, Israel set out to give an answer to that question which would suit its needs.To cement its hold over the new territories Israel had sought to mold the story of the Six Day. The attempt to frame the ...
READ MORE
America’s Forever War Strategy
America is unique among history’s warrior states – prioritizing endless wars, not ending them to achieve a new era of peace and stability.The notion is anathema to the nation’s military, industrial, and media establishment. Wars are waged for power and profits, no other reasons.All post-WW II US wars were and continue to be acts of naked aggression against nations threatening no one – raping and destroying them, the human cost incalculable, the villainy unprecedented.Throughout its history, America has been perpetually at war at home and/or abroad, never a time of peace and stability – a shocking indictment of its abhorrent ...
READ MORE
A Russian Warning
We, the undersigned, are Russians living and working in the USA. We have been watching with increasing anxiety as the current US and NATO policies have set us on an extremely dangerous collision course with the Russian Federation, as well as with China. Many respected, patriotic Americans, such as Paul Craig Roberts, Stephen Cohen, Philip Giraldi, Ray McGovern and many others have been issuing warnings of a looming a Third World War. But their voices have been all but lost among the din of a mass media that is full of deceptive and inaccurate stories that characterize the Russian economy ...
READ MORE
Bipartisan Neocons Infesting Washington: What Prospects for America?
US duopoly power replaced the eras of Jefferson, Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt. No JFKs exist, President Kennedy as we recall was a peacemaker assassinated for opposing war, urging nuclear disarmament and the normalization of relations  with the Soviet Union.   New Deal, Fair Deal and Great Society programs are heading for history’s dust bin. Bipartisan neocons infesting Washington want social justice ended, neoliberal enslavement replacing it, fascist police state harshness enforcing it.America is a gangster state, criminals running it – beginning in the 1990s under Bill Clinton, hardened under George W. Bush, institutionalized under Obama, certain to worsen no matter who succeeds him.US ...
READ MORE
What We Still haven’t Learned from the Vietnam War
Fifty years ago today, in 1967, nearly 100,000 Americans marched on Washington, DC, to protest the Vietnam War. In those days there was a mandatory draft in place, and the risk was very real that a young man just out of high school could quickly wind up 13,000 miles away, fighting an unseen enemy in jungles that didn’t need tanks or B-52 bombers to inflict fear. Worse yet was the possibility of going MIA or coming home in a body bag — just another expendable statistic in the great fight against communism. But even many of those who made it ...
READ MORE
Book Review: Robert Fantina, “Empire, Racism and Genocide: A History of U.S. Foreign Policy”, 2013
In its entire history, there has been very little time when the United States has been at peace. As it wages its many wars and ‘interventions’, the stated goal is always something few people could argue with: fostering democracy when a struggling people are resisting tyranny, removing threats to U.S. security, or punishing a cruel dictator for unspeakable misdeeds. Yet on closer scrutiny, these reasons are seldom valid. They simply hide the true purposes of U.S. military involvement, which are power and wealth. Starting with the barbarous destruction of Native American culture in order to gain farmlands, right through to the ...
READ MORE
Totalitarian Rule in America
Every day signs are looming larger than life as we know it in the wealthiest nation on earth that it’s about to crash and burn, forever changing not for the better. The latest wake-up call arrived in a Guardian article earlier this week. The story features a secret prison not unlike the CIA torture detention centers all over the world whereby the Chicago police hold rounded up US citizens for hours or days at a time for interrogation. The same internationally illegal roundups of suspected “potential terrorists” (which by latest Gestapo America standards can easily be you or me) that the CIA ...
READ MORE
The USA from 1776 onward
Great Expectations for Kaunas, as City is Named 2022 “Capital of European Culture”
Trump, Brexit and the Collapse of the Liberal Order
Mass Exodus from Muslim Kosovo into Europe: Did US Play a Role in Creating the Crisis?
Yalta, 1945: The Impact on Yugoslavia
Disobedient Hungary: From the Soviet Union to the European Union
27 Years since the Massacre of Serbian Civilians in Bosnia
The “Non-Citizens” of the Baltic States: Α European Scandal Nobody Speaks about!
US Imperialism Wages Permanent Warfare to Prevent its Inevitable Collapse
The Demolition of U.S. Global Power
Never to Forget: 1999 – NATO’s War on Yugoslavia
Donald Trump – Not My President!
The Myth of “Aggressive Russia”
Was Israel Under Existential Threat in June 1967?
America’s Forever War Strategy
A Russian Warning
Bipartisan Neocons Infesting Washington: What Prospects for America?
What We Still haven’t Learned from the Vietnam War
Book Review: Robert Fantina, “Empire, Racism and Genocide: A History of U.S. Foreign Policy”, 2013
Totalitarian Rule in America
FOLLOW US ON OUR SOCIAL PLATFORMS
Share

About White Nettle

SHORT LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The website’s owner & editor-in-chief has no official position on any issue published on this website. The views of the authors presented on this website do not necessarily coincide with the opinion of the owner & editor-in-chief of the website. The contents of all material (articles, books, photos, videos…) are of sole responsibility of the authors. The owner & editor-in-chief of this website is not morally, scientifically, or legally responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the contents of all material found on this website. The owner & editor-in-chief of this website is not responsible for the content of external internet sites. No advertising, government, or corporate funding for the functioning of this website. The owner & editor-in-chief and authors are not morally, scientifically, or legally responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the text and material found on the website www.global-politics.eu