A Serbian citizen, named only as D.A., was arrested in Kosovo on Wednesday on suspicion of having committed war crimes against civilians during the Kosovo war, the Kosovo Special Prosecution announced on Thursday.
Police said suspect was arrested on Wednesday at the border crossing between Kosovo and Serbia in Jarinje and taken into custody on a court order.
“The Special Prosecution, within the legal time limits against the same (suspect), will make a request for detention,” the prosecution announcement read. Other details on the case are still not public.
The head of Kosovo’s Special Prosecution, Drita Hajdari, told BIRN in July that her office was prioritising cases of wartime massacres due to the big backlog. She also said she was exploring legal loopholes to bring old cases back to the court.
The Special Prosecution has only four prosecutors and is due to hire at least two more. Hajdari had said that four prosecutors were not enough to complete all the work because they had inherited 900 war-crime cases from the EU rule of law mission EULEX and 2,000 files for missing persons, alongside accepting other cases. “Currently, we have 1,000 cases,” Hajdari had told BIRN.
A major problem in war crimes trials in Kosovo is lack of legal cooperation with Serbia. But in June, Kosovo amended its criminal code to make trials in absentia easier, meaning there is no need for a defendant to be sought in the state where he or she is believed to be before putting him or her on trial.
A summons for questioning to an absent suspect will also not have to be sent out five times before the case proceeds.
However, critics told BIRN in August that trials in absentia don’t necessarily mean any more war criminals will actually go to jail.