Kosovo police officers escort Milazim Haxhiaj on Sunday, July 12, 2015. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

Sentences lowered for defendants in the ‘Badovci terrorism case’

Five defendants received substantially lower sentences in the retrial of the controversial ‘Badovci case’ involving Kosovar men allegedly associated to ISIS.

Exactly one year and a day ago, after they were sentenced for the first time by the Basic Court of Prishtina, the panel of judges issued a new sentence for the accused in the ‘Badovci case.’

The panel, composed of Valbona Selimaj, Valon Kurtaj, and Vesel Ismajli, sentenced Bensik Latifi with four years and six months in prison, while his co-defendants Gazmend Haliti, Milazim Haxhiaj, and Enis Latifi were sentenced to only three years and six months in prison. The fifth defendant, Fehmi Muxha, who was accused of being an accessory to a criminal offense, was sentenced to three years in prison, while the sixth suspect, Betim Raimaj, fled before the case ever came to court.

The prison terms for the five defendants are substantially lower in contrast to the original verdict, according to which they were sentenced to 49 years in prison altogether.

When the Basic Court of Prishtina issued its verdict on July 18, 2016, the five defendants were found guilty of going to the Badovci Lake near Prishtina in July 2015 with the intent of recording a propaganda video.

Initially, the five defendants were accused of “preparation of terrorist offenses or criminal offenses against the constitutional order and security of the Republic of Kosovo.” According to the Kosovo criminal code, even attempted terrorist actions are considered a criminal offense.

Due to “essential violations” of procedure in both the first verdict in the Basic Court and the confirmation by the Appeals Court, the Supreme Court sent the case to retrial.

On Wednesday, the panel of judges changed the charges against the defendants from charges of committing terrorist acts to “attempted incitement for terrorist acts.”

According to the indictment, Besnik Latifi, Gazmend Haliti, Milazim Haxhiaj, Fehmi Musa, and Enis Latifi went to Badovci intending to record a propaganda video pledging allegiance to the leader of ISIS. According to the prosecution, the accused intended to publish the video on the Internet with the intent of demonstrating to the world the expansion of the so called “Islamic State” in the Republic of Kosovo.

19/07/2017 - 11:56

19 July 2017 - 11:56

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