By David Sophrin
Impunity Watch Reporter
PRISTINA, Kosovo – Three former Kosovo guerrilla fighters were sentenced by a European Union court on Friday in connection with war crimes during the 1998-1999 Kosovo War. Each of the fighters had fought in the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) during the separatist conflict against Serbian forces.
The EU Rule-of-Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX), which is in charge of certain war crimes prosecutions, concluded that the three men had participated in the torturing and detention of civilian victims, notably ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. According to a EU court spokesman, the three were guilty of “war crimes through inhumane treatment of civilian detainees and…beating and torture of civilian detainees.”
Latif Gasgi, Nazif Mehmetim, and Rrustem Mustafa had originally been sentenced in 2003, but two years later a retrial was ordered by the Kosovo Supreme Court. Gasgi and Mehmeti were sentenced to six and three years respectively, while Mustafa was sentenced to four years in prison.
One incident on which the charges were founded occurred on in July of 1998. Gasgi, while stationed at a checkpoint in central Kosovo, opened fire on a civilian Kosovo Albanian family after they failed to stop at the checkpoint. These acts fell within the definition of the war crimes. “Gasgi committed the criminal offence of war crime against the civilian population, punishable by Kosovo and international law.”
These convictions come on the heels of the EU arresting four Serbians who allegedly committed war crimes during the Kosovo war.
Mustafa is currently a official in the Kosovo parliament and has been a leading political figure in the Democratic Party of Kosovo. He was also the commander of the KLA during the Kosovo War.
For more information, please read:
AP – Court in Kosovo convicts 3 ex-rebels of war crimes – 2 October 2009
RADIO NEDERLAND – Kosovo jails 3 ex-fighters for war crimes – 2 October 2009
REUTERS – Kosovo jails 3 ex-fighters for 1998-99 war crimes – 2 October 2009
TAIWAN NEWS – Court in Kosovo convicts 3 ex-rebels of war crimes – 2 October 2009