Domestic Violence in the Kosovo Police: Victims Suffer While Officials Fail to Act

The Kosovo Police suspended a police officer more than one month after the Basic Court of Prishtina issued a restraining order against him after he was reported for domestic violence by his wife. Prosecution’s investigation continues.

“The only thing I have is a restrictive order against him. He moves around freely on the streets, with a gun. I have reported him for domestic violence, no one did anything,” L.M., the wife of Captain Riza Murati, the director of the Anti Human Trafficking Directorate of the Kosovo Police, told BIRN on April 9, 2024, prior to his suspension.

On March 12, 2024, the Basic Court of Prishtina issued a restraining order against Captain Murati, which bans him from being within 50 metres of L.M. while in public places and within 100 metres while they are in the same residence. The order, which was given out in response to L.M. reporting Murati for domestic violence, also prohibits him from communicating with L.M. in any form, as well as from disturbing, offending, or manipulating her.

Nonetheless, the Kosovo Police Inspectorate, IPK, recommended his suspension only after more than one month from the court’s decision, on April 19, following media reports and pressure.

“Every recommendation of the IPK is implemented by the Kosovo Police, the same was done for the case (of Riza Murati),” the Kosovo Police confirmed to BIRN on April 25, 2024.

Murati is not alone amongst Kosovo Police officers who have been reported for domestic violence. IPK told BIRN that during the period 2019-2023, 41 domestic violence criminal complaints were raised against current police officers, and that allegations of domestic violence were sent to Kosovo state prosecutors.

In the years 2021- 2023, twenty cases were initiated, almost the same number as the two previous years, 2020 and 2019, when nine and eleven cases of domestic violence had been initiated, respectively, according to data from the Police Inspectorate.

BIRN raised the issue of domestic violence offenders within the Kosovo police because of a nation-wide debate about sexual offenders in public institutions. The problem of sexual offenders gained national attention after a mathematics professor in the University of Prishtina, UP, was ousted by 27 students from the Medical Faculty for a campaign of sexual harassment he led at UP. The police have not arrested the professor, but they did briefly detain those who protested against him.

16 Years of Suffering 

Illustration. Photo: Pixabay/Gerd Altmann

On March 12, 2024, Murati’s wife reported him for domestic violence that had continued for 16 years, since the birth of their first son. 

“I was married to him for 17 years, and for 16 years I have been suffering from psychological and physical violence,” she told BIRN, explaining that “these problems with him started since I gave birth to my firstborn son, we never had these problems when we were childless, he hid these negative qualities”. 

“He must have felt like he had tied me down, since he saw that I was so committed to my children,” she said.

“After the beating, he would try to make it up by buying me gifts, or saying he would like to take me on a holiday, but none of this could repay for the tears, and the bruises he caused,” L.M. said, adding that “if something bothered his family, he would come and beat me”.

“ I had marks on my forehead, swollen, blackened, bruised, he beat me so much that he didn’t even let me go to the doctor to treat me because he was afraid I would report him to the police,” L.M. confesses, explaining that Murati would threaten that if she did report him, she would “lose the right to see” her son and that the file would “end up in the archives,” implying that his powerful position within the Kosovo Police allowed him to hide his abuse. .

L.M. also recalled that Murati had deleted photos she had taken of her bruises and even smashed her phone. 

“He told me that I didn’t need to take pictures, if Ii needed new scars he would be happy to give me new ones,” she said.

Sheremet Fejza, lawyer of captain Murati, told the court during the hearing on whether to issue the protective order that his client could not have made such acts of violence against his wife because of his position in the Kosovo Police. 

Murati has been unreachable to BIRN for a comment on the allegations against him. The prosecution team at the Basic Court of Mitrovica has not responded to BIRN’s questions on the ongoing investigation by the time of publication.

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