President Thaci decorating Rrustem Mustafa alias Remi with the medal of Jubilary Presidential Medal in February 2018, celebrating his “esteemed contribution towards freedom and independence.” Photo: BIRN.

Thaci secretly appoints advisor convicted of war crimes

A report released on Thursday by the Kosovo Anti-Corruption Agency revealed that Rrustem Mustafa, who was sentenced to prison in 2013 for crimes committed during the war, has been employed by President Hashim Thaci since February.

The publication of the Kosovo Anti-Corruption Agency’s report on the declaration of wealth of public servants on Thursday revealed that Rrustem Mustafa, popularly known as ‘Remi,’ has been appointed as an advisor to Kosovo President Hashim Thaci for the last four months, a fact unknown to the public until now.

When BIRN contacted Mustafa to confirm that he has been working as an advisor to the president, he replied “What kind of question is this?” before ending the phone call.

Besides being an advisor to the president, Mustafa is also a member of the chairmanship of the Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK.

Mustafa, who was a commander in the Kosovo Liberation Army during the war, was invited for an interview to the Hague-based Kosovo Specialist Chambers in December. According to the declaration of wealth of public servants report, Mustafa began to receive money as an adviser two months following his invitation to give testimony in the Hague.

Numerous former leaders in the Kosovo Liberation Army have been invited by the popularly-named ‘Special Court’ for interviews in the last six months. However, the nature and substance of these interviews has not been revealed to the public.

In 2013 Mustafa, the former Llapi Operational Zone Commander, was found guilty and imprisoned for four years for war crimes, a conviction that was then confirmed by the Kosovo Court of Appeals.

Mustafa was decorated by the president for his services to Kosovo. in February 2018, Thaci awarded Mustafa with the Jubilary Presidential Medal, celebrating his “esteemed contribution towards freedom and independence.”

On Tuesday, Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj dismissed Sylejman Selimi, another former KLA commander who was sentenced for war crimes, from a position as his political advisor. His appointment in January following his release from prison was met with harsh criticism from the international community.

“I have released my political adviser, Sylejman Selimi, from his duties, upon his request. I thanked Mr. Selimi for the contribution he has made so far in my political office,” Haradinaj wrote on Facebook, without further explaining the reasons for the decision.

Mustafa’s annual salary as an advisor to the president, according to the Anti-Corruption Agency report, reaches 18,000 euros, which is 13,800 euros more than Kosovo’s national average salary.

Neither Thaci nor Mustafa have provided details as to the nature of Mustafa’s employment in the Office of the President.

06/06/2019 - 16:53

06 June 2019 - 16:53

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