Photo: BIRN.

Vetevendosje activist to sue presidential bodyguards over alleged attack

A supporter of Vetevendosje has said he will sue President Hashim Thaci’s team of bodyguards – accusing them of beating him up after he called the President a ‘thief’.

A Kosovo activist, Veron Hasani, has pressed charges against the bodyguards of President Hashim Thaci, after being detained for calling the president a “thief” and, he said, violently attacked.

On the local TV station T7, Thaci defended the action, calling Hasani “a Kurti activist” – meaning a supporter of Vetevendosje party leader Albin Kurti – and praising the actions of his bodyguards as an “excellent reaction”.

Flutura Kusari, a media lawyer and advocate of freedom of speech, said the detention had been totally unjustified. In a Facebook post, she noted that “under the laws in Kosovo, calling a politician a ‘thief’ is not a criminal act”. Therefore, she continued, “you cannot be detained by the police” for such words. According to Kusari, “there may also be circumstances when such a statement does not even constitute defamation”.

The event happened on Wednesday afternoon, after Kosovo MPs had voted in a new government led by the deputy leader of the Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, Avdullah Hoti, replacing the former government led by Kurti.

As President Thaci held a press conference in the government building courtyard, the Vetevendosje activist called him a “thief”. Thaci’s bodyguards then followed the man, later identified as Hasani, detained him with force and reportedly hit one of the people who demanded the reasons behind their actions. The bodyguards then took Hasani back to the government building.

Local media filmed the event and published clips later. In one of the videos, from local media outlet Indeksonline, one of the bodyguards can be seen approaching a journalist to stop him from filming. “I am a journalist, you cannot touch me,” the journalist responds, showing his ID.

Later on Wednesday, his lawyer, Tome Gashi, told the media that Hasani had needed treatment in the University Clinical Center of Kosovo, UCCK. The lawyer showed documents that proved Hasani had been treated in hospital for his wounds.

“We will prosecute those people for the violence used against me,” Hasani said, adding that the bodyguards did not explain who they were but had immediately “attacked” him. The bodyguards later “wiped my blood on the cabin at the presidency”, Hasani claimed, adding that they had told him: “Don’t use this blood as make-up”.

Hasani had then was sent to the police station where he testified about the event.

Vetevendosje in a press release urged human and political rights organisations to “react against this dictatorial arrogance that Thaci is trying to impose in Kosovo”.

04/06/2020 - 14:41

04 June 2020 - 14:41

Prishtina Insight is a digital and print magazine published by BIRN Kosovo, an independent, non-governmental organisation. To find out more about the organization please visit the official website. Copyright © 2016 BIRN Kosovo.