“How many more missed calls?” “Diana Kastrati” and “Zejnepe Bytyqi,” read the inscriptions on three billboards on Luan Haradinaj street, where the Kosovo Police Headquarters is located in Prishtina. The billboards, created by the Haveit Collective in reference the murders of Diana Kastrati and Zejnepe Bytyqi, who were killed by their husbands, seem to be a jab at the Kosovo justice system, which failed to respond in time to save the victims. Kastrati and Bytyci had reported their husbands for domestic violence multiple times, yet were murdered.| Photo: Atdhe Mulla.

Court awards family of Diana Kastrati €95,000 in compensation

Following a judicial decision hailing the Republic of Kosovo responsible for the murder of Diana Kastrati, her family was awarded 95,000 euros in compensation for the emotional damage caused by the state’s failure to act upon Diana’s request for protection from domestic violence.

Eight years after the murder of Diana Kastrati in 2011, the Basic Court in Prizren ruled last week that Diana’s parents, Gezim and Makfire Kastrati, will receive compensation from the Kosovo state, which was deemed responsible for their suffering following the loss of their daughter. 

The Court confirmed a 2013 decision from the Constitutional Court that declared Diana’s murder a result of the failure of the Kosovo justice system to comply with their legal obligations to protect the victim.

Despite the plaintiff’s claim for 600,000 euros in compensation, the Basic Court of Prizren allocated 95,000 euros in compensation for the emotional suffering caused to Diana’s parents following the murder of their daughter, money which the Republic of Kosovo is obliged to pay following this decision. 

The 2013 Constitutional Court decision assessed that the state was responsible for Diana’s death as a result of the inaction of the justice institutions following multiple calls Diana made to authorities in an attempt to report the domestic violence she was subject to at the hands of her former partner.

On the initiative of her parents, on April 17, 2012, former Kosovo Assembly member and lawyer Korab Sejdiu filed a request to the Constitutional Court seeking to declare that the failure of the Basic Court in Prishtina to act on Diana’s request had violated her right to life as enshrined in the Kosovo Constitution.

Sejdiu called the decision a “huge victory for victims of domestic violence.”

Diana Kastrati was killed on May 18, 2011, on a street near her home in Prishtina by her former partner and father of her child, with whom she had been living for more than 10 years.

Three weeks before she was killed, Diana had filed a petition to the Basic Court in Prishtina for an emergency protection order, but the court did not act.

Diana Kastrati’s case captured significant public attention in the years since her murder, most notably in March 2018 when Kosovo artistic collective Haveit put up three billboards outside the Kosovo Police headquarters in Prishtina, one of which bore her name, in protest of the justice system’s lack of response following domestic violence reports. The other billboard bore the name of Zejnepe Bytyqi, who was also killed by her husband after reporting him to the police numerous times.  

According to last week’s judicial decision, the Republic of Kosovo violated Diana’s right to life by failing to provide an effective judicial remedy through not responding to her request or providing protection of any kind, as required by the Law on Protection from Domestic Violence, the Kosovo Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights. 

Following the decision of the Constitutional Court, Gezim and Makfire Kastrati sued the Kosovo Judicial Council, the Basic Court of Prishtina and the Republic of Kosovo in November 2013, seeking compensation from all three institutions for the damage they suffered as a result. 

Five and a half years after this lawsuit was filed, the Basic Court in Prizren ruled in part to approve the lawsuit of Diana’s parents. The lawsuit filed against the Basic Court of Prishtina was withdrawn, and that against the Kosovo Judicial Council was dismissed as unfounded. 

The claim for damages against the Republic of Kosovo was admissible, and the lawsuit filed by Diana’s family stated that her parents suffered from fear and insecurity and continued to live in pain and suffering brought about directly by the failure of the public authorities to protect their child’s life.

“The Court, acting on the basis of Article 53 of the Constitution of Kosovo and in the spirit of the practice of the European Court of Human Rights, found that it was responsible for the violated rights which were established by the Constitutional Court of Kosovo, the Republic of Kosovo is responsible,” reads the judgment of the Prizren Court.

The Court considered the amount of compensation claimed by Diana’s parents, 600,000 euros, was a “groundless” claim. In accordance with prior case law and the standard of living in Kosovo, the Court concluded that 95,000 euros was an appropriate amount of compensation.

Public authorities came under fire in early 2018 when reports that domestic violence shelters were forced to close were revealed. According to the shelters, lack of funding prevented them from providing basic services and paying their electricity bills. The Kosovo Government then allocated 65,000 euros in emergency funding to keep the shelters afloat. 

Civil society organizations in Kosovo have organized numerous protests in Kosovo to condemn the continued proliferation of deaths resulting from domestic violence, as well as the failure of judicial institutions to provide sentences of adequate length for murder in cases concerning domestic violence.

In April 2017, Kosovar activists protested the minimal sentencing for the murder of Zejnepe Berisha, whose husband had stabbed her 20 times. The case was appealed and Nebih Berisha was given a prison sentence of 17 years.

Another protest was organized in September 2018 after Naser Pajazitaj, the cousin of Donjeta Pajazitaj, was acquitted of her murder by the Basic Court in Peja after an appeal which stated that the court had erroneously relied on the testimony of the accused’s wife and daughter to make the decision.

Following a succesful appeal, Pajazitaj became one of the first in Kosovo to be issued a life sentence for murder in a domestic violence case in March 2019. Earlier that month, the Basic Court of Gjakova ruled that Pjeter Nrecaj would also serve life in prison for the murder of his former wife, Valbona Nrecaj, and their nine-year-old daughter. 

11/09/2019 - 10:49

11 September 2019 - 10:49

Prishtina Insight is a digital and print magazine published by BIRN Kosovo, an independent, non-governmental organisation. To find out more about the organization please visit the official website. Copyright © 2016 BIRN Kosovo.