Haxhi Shala, former guerrilla and Kosovo MP. Photo from the first session in the Hague, December 13, 2023.

Former Guerrilla Haxhi Shala Arrested in Kosovo, Sent to The Hague

The arrest of former MP and guerrilla fighter Haxhi Shala comes amid a probe into alleged obstruction of justice.

Former Kosovo MP Haxhi Shala, who fought as a guerrilla against Serb forces in Kosovo’s 1998-99 war, was arrested on Tuesday on charges issued by the Kosovo Specialist Chambers in The Hague.

At the initial appearance on Wednesday, the accused chose to enter his plea within 30 days.  According to the Special Prosecutor’s Office, his further appearance will be scheduled in due course.

The indictment, as confirmed, charges Haxhi Shala with: intimidation and attempting to obstruct, by serious threat, official persons in performing official duties, both individually and by participating in the common action of a group.

In early November, the Kosovo Specialist Chambers said it had ordered several raids in Kosovo as part of investigations into possible obstruction of justice. Around the same time, the SPO announced the arrest of another former guerrilla fighter from Malisheve/Malisevo – ex-mayor Isni Kilaj – on suspicion of obstruction of justice.

The Kosovo Specialist Chambers was created in 2015 to try former fighters of the Kosovo Liberation Army for crimes committed during and immediately after the war, including crimes against civilians and political killings. The court was set up in The Hague due to concerns the Kosovo justice system would be unable to try former guerrillas after previous cases were marred by widespread witness intimidation.

Media reported on Monday that Shala, a former MP of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo party, had been questioned in the premises of the European Union’s rule-of-law mission in Kosovo, EULEX, though this was not confirmed by the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office, SPO.

On Tuesday, Shala’s brother, Avni, told Klan Kosova that Shala had been arrested by EULEX police in the early hours of the morning in the village of Banja, near the town of Malisheve/Malisevo.

“We didn’t know anything,” he said. “I went to work, the family informed me later, they told me that the police came and took him.”

“Haxhi was interviewed, his phone was confiscated. The invitation has been answered. He doesn’t run from justice, there’s no reason to run from it.”

and 14/12/2023 - 15:09

14 December 2023 - 15:09

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