Azem Syla in police custody, Prishtina. 29.04.2016. Photo: BIRN.

Former KLA commander Azem Syla rearrested for “influencing witnesses”

Only three weeks after he was released from jail, the former MP and prominent politician was apprehended by police for allegedly influencing protected witnesses.

Azem Syla, former MP from the Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, who is suspected of appropriating socially owned property was arrested today, three weeks after being released from jail. A prominent politician and former MP, Syla was previously the General Commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army headquarters.

Syla is accused of leading a crime group suspected of appropriating socially owned property in the outskirts of Prishtina and money laundering.  After a major raid involving Kosovo and EULEX police, Syla surrendered to the police and was jailed on April 29. Syla and other defendants were released on August 25, but were banned from communicating to each other or witnesses.

According to his lawyer Tome Gashi, Syla was arrested at the prosecutor’s request because he allegedly tried to influence “a protected witness,” violating his house arrest.

“This decision is scandalous,” said Gashi, adding that Syla did not have any contact with protected witnesses and that the warrant issued by the Basic Court of Prishtina confirms this.

“The warrant clearly states that someone else, not Mr. Azem Syla, has allegedly contacted the protected witness after Azem Syla and others were released from detainment,” explained Gashi.

Syla appeared before the judge in the Basic Court of Prishtina today. His case is presided by the EULEX judge Jennifer Seal.

“Allegedly, the prosecutor has facts that specific individuals have contacted the witness in his name, and not Azem Syla himself,” said Gashi after the hearing.

“Syla has nothing to do with the attempt to contact the witness and this is proven by the evidence provided by the prosecutor, the photos…” added Gashi explaining that they would respect the decision of the court.

The court will decide on Syla’s detention in the next 24 hours.

Syla is among 52 people suspected of appropriating socially owned property in Caglavica and Laplje Selo. In addition to Syla, who surrendered voluntarily,  Nuhi Uka, Sabedin Haxhiu, Avni Maxhuni, Hajrullah Berisha, Ilaz Syla, and Lubisha Vujovic were also  arrested in late April this year during the major raid conducted by Kosovo Police and EULEX throughout Kosovo.

16/09/2016 - 15:14

16 September 2016 - 15:14

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