Budimir Ivanisevic. | Photo: Medija Centar Beograd.

Serbia staged unfair trials of Kosovo Albanians, report claims

Serbian courts staged almost 2,000 unfair trials of Kosovo Albanians from 1998 to 2000, violating their rights and using discredited techniques to convict them, claimed a report by the Humanitarian Law Centre.

Serbian courts unfairly tried 1,874 Kosovo Albanians from 1998 to 2000, many of them being defendants who were transferred to prisons in Serbia after the Kosovo war ended in June 1999, said the report launched on Tuesday in Belgrade by the Humanitarian Law Centre.

“The report takes note of several breaches of the law, but it also points out the fact that many people in the judiciary who were active in these processes still occupy important functions today,” said Budimir Ivanisevic, executive director of the HLC.

The report says that in 1996 and 1997, district prosecutors in Kosovo started bringing a large number of charges of terrorism and other related crimes against ethnic Albanians.

They were accused, amongst other things, of organising terrorist gangs, attacking the police, military and civilians, and working towards the violent secession of Kosovo from Serbia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

After Belgrade’s forces pulled out of Kosovo at the end of the war in June 1999, the Kosovo Albanians who were being prosecuted were relocated to prisons in Serbia and their trials continued before Serbian courts.

The HLC report alleges that Serbian institutions committed numerous human rights violations, and ignored the arrested Kosovo Albanians’ claims that they were being treated inhumanely, in some cases being tortured to extract confessions.

In most cases, a discredited paraffin test was used to determine the presence of nitrate – a component of gunpowder – on the hands of the suspects.

“The paraffin test was abandoned in the mid-20th century, and is not considered worthy evidence that someone fired a weapon. Many of the arrested people were farmers and had contact with [nitrates],” said the author of the report, Mihailo Pavlovic.

Read the full story on Balkan Insight.

Filip Rudic, Balkan Insight 25/07/2017 - 16:52

25 July 2017 - 16:52

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