Kosovo’s Special Prosecution announced on Tuesday that a Kosovo Serb policeman had been arrested on war crimes charges for allegedly beating and torturing a person at the police station in Kamenice/Kamenica in 1999, while on official duty.
“It is suspected that the defendant Z.A., during the Kosovo war, specifically in March 1999, at the police station in Kamenica, in the capacity of an official and in collaboration other members of the Serbian police, in uniform and armed, first beat the victim with the initials B.M. with rubber rods and kicks, inhumanely torturing (him), mistreating him and causing heavy injuries,” the announcement read, adding the victim risked losing their life.
While the Prosecution presented the suspect only with initials, Serbia’s Office for Kosovo confirmed his identity as Zlatko Arsic, a Kosovo Police member from the eastern municipality of Kamenicë/Kamenica.
The Kosovo prosecution said also that in February-March 1999, Z.A. is suspected, in co-perpetration with other members of the Serbian police and paramilitary groups, of participating in “the forced expulsion and displacement of the citizens of Kamenica and the surrounding area, and then looting houses, and then with the aim of damaging the property of Albanians, setting fire to them and taking part in the mistreatment of civilians Albanians”.
Kosovo’s Minister of Interior, Xhelal Svecla, on Tuesday after the announcement said that crimes committed during the war in Kosovo will not be forgotten or pardoned and that “justice is inevitable for every inhumane act against the civilian population”.
Serbia’s Office for Kosovo, however, claimed the arrest was “a new form of pressure and harassment to which the Serbs in Kosovo … are being subjected by Pristina before the end of the court process itself,” highlighting that Arsic is now a Kosovo police officer, and raising questions on how he passed the “necessary checks and tests”.
Explaining that free legal assistance was provided to Arsic, “a father of three”, Serbia’s Office for Kosovo accused Svecla of declaring “Arsic guilty even before the trial and the court’s decision”.
“This clearly shows that there is no right or justice for the Serbs in Kosovo,” the press release reads, adding that it will inform international organizations that Kosovo verdicts on these cases are “based on political and ethnic key” and “are pronounced in public, which violates the presumption of innocence and denies them the right to a fair trial”.
“This raises the justified suspicion that the motives behind Arsic’s arrest are of a completely different nature, and last night’s announcement by Xhelal Svecla, who declared Arsic guilty even before the trial and the court’s decision, supports this,” the Office said.