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Kosovo politican acquitted on war crimes charges

Kosovo politician and parliamentarian Fatmir Limaj [JURIST news archive] was acquitted [verdict, PDF] Wednesday on charges of war crimes allegedly committed during the 1998-99 Kosovo war with Serbia [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. Limaj allegedly ordered the torture and killings of Serbian detainees in 1999. He and three co-defendants were tried [JURIST report] and acquitted before a panel of two EU judges and one Kosovo judge as part of the European Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) [official website]. Six others were acquitted last month. Much of the prosecution's case relied upon the testimony of a former member of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), who was found hanged in September in an apparent suicide. The prosecution plans to appeal [press release].

EULEX has been investigating war crimes [JURIST report] since December 2008. An influential figure in the ruling Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) [official website, in Albanian], Limaj was excluded from a cabinet position following international pressure not to include corrupt officials but was elected into the Kosovo parliament. Limaj is an ex-member of the KLA and is viewed as a liberator by many ethnic Albanians. In 2005, Limaj was acquitted of similar charges by a war crimes tribunal in The Hague because of insufficient evidence. An EU judge in September placed Limaj under house arrest [JURIST report] while awaiting trial. In September, EULEX charged 10 former members of the KLA [JURIST report], including Limaj, with war crimes for their actions during the 1998-1999 war in Kosovo.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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