Sami Lushtaku. | Photo: Atdhe Mulla.

24 accused for prison escape of KLA commander convicted for war crimes

After at least three escape attempts, Kosovo Liberation Army commander Sami Lushtaku and his collaborators finally face charges raised by EULEX prosecutors.

The former Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, commander,  who is behind bars for war crimes, and 23 other individuals, including his son Mergim, have been indicted for various criminal offenses leading to the escape of Lushtaku himself, and two other detainees.

The Basic Court in Mitrovica convicted Lushtaku for murder and sentenced him to 12 years of prison on May 27, 2015, only a week after his escape attempt. This sentence was modified a few days ago, when charges for murder against Lushtaku were dropped. Nevertheless, the Appeals Court, convicted  Lushtaku of seven years in prison for “command responsibility for allegedly violating the [bodily] integrity and health of an undefined number of civilian Albanians held at the Likovc detention, center.”

 Although convicted, Lushtaku continues to be the mayor of Skenderaj.

An indictment regarding the escape attempts obtained by Prishtina Insight was filed by the European Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo, EULEX, prosecutors.

According to the indictment, 24 people – including  high officials from the Ministry of Justice, prison guards, businesspeople, and Lushtaku’s collaborators – were involved in the escape of Sami Lushtaku, Sahit Jashari, and Ismet Haxha from the main hospital in Prishtina on May 20, 2014.

Prior to his escape from the hospital and throughout his stay there, Lushtaku “was in the possession of the key to his room… His room was equipped with a lobby, refrigerator and a tv. The room did not have any bars on the window,” the indictment states.

He was apprehended two days after his escape from the hospital.

The indictment covers two other escape attempts: in August 2015, Lushtaku left detention for a few hours, while in September 2015, Lushtaku allegedly tried fleeing once more and was sent to a high-security prison.

Family members, guards, and prisoners were all in cahoots, according to the indictment.

The indictment describes the operation in detail, accusing doctors of the Central Clinic in Prishtina of falsification of the medical diagnosis regarding Lushtaku’s health. Other allegations include bribery of witnesses by Lushtaku’s collaborators.  One of the aides, Emrush Thaqi, is accused of having helped the convicts escape in order to be promoted Director General of the Kosovo Correctional Service.

17/11/2016 - 17:05

17 November 2016 - 17:05

Prishtina Insight is a digital and print magazine published by BIRN Kosova. For 8 years, PI has been reporting on current affairs, published exclusive investigations and longform features & essays about Kosovo and the region.