Kosovo activists and civil society groups protest in front of the Kosovo Prosecution building. Photo: BIRN/Urim Krasniqi

Kosovo activists protest against lenient sentence for sexual abuser

Protesters rallied in Pristina after a court sentenced a man to eight months in prison for sexually abusing a 15-year-old, saying that the lenient punishment served to condone violence against women.

Kosovo civil society activists protested on Tuesday in front of the Kosovo Judicial Council in Pristina after a verdict handed down by a local court in the town of Peja/Pec sentenced a man to eight months and eight days in prison for sexually abusing a 15-year-old.

“This decision, as well as being delayed and illegitimate, is also deeply sexist as it continues to normalise and amnesty violence against girls and women,” said Liridona Sijarina, an activist from the Collective for Feminist Thought and Action.

In July this year, the Basic Court in Peja/Pec found the defendant, who was only identified by the initials P.K., guilty of abusing the teenage girl in 2012.

P.K., who had pleaded guilty, was jailed for eight months and eight days, even though Kosovo’s legislation allows punishment from 5 years to 20 years in prison for such offences.

P.K. was in pre-trial detention for the exact amount of time to which he was sentenced, so he did not have to serve any more prison time.

Together with another minor, he kidnapped the victim by threatening her with a knife as she was leaving hospital. According to the indictment, the 15-year-old victim was taken to an abandoned house where P.K. and two other minors abused her until she managed to leave in the morning.

Trial judge Florije Zartriqi considered ten mitigating circumstances when deciding on the sentence, such as the fact that the defendant pleaded guilty, expressed regret, did not have previous convictions, and was 21 years old at the time of the crime and therefore immature.

The court did not find any aggravating circumstance in the case; a decision that was criticised by the protesting activists.

“These institutions that are violating our girls and women must be strongly challenged by all of us,” Sijarina said.

The activists also placed a banner at the Kosovo state prosecution calling for a disciplinary investigation into the prosecutors who worked on the case.

Kosovo chief state prosecutor, Aleksander Lumezi, on Tuesday asked by Peja/Pec’s chief prosecutor, Agim Kurmehaj, to review the role of prosecutor Lirije Morina in the case and see if disciplinary proceedings are required.

On August 20, 2021, the Peja/Pec court decision became final because prosecutor Morina did not complain to the Court of Appeals.

Morina had also proposed to the court to consider as mitigating circumstances in the case “the statement by the injured party that there were no injuries during the sexual intercourse”.

Tuesday’s demonstration followed other protests about the same issue in Kosovo in May and August this year.

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27 October 2021 - 10:07

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