EU police in Kosovo arrest alleged hit man

AP News
Posted: Nov 30, 2009 6:42 PM

European Union police in Kosovo said Monday a man claiming to be a hit man for former ethnic Albanian rebels has been arrested on suspicion of murder and participation in organized crime.

Christophe Lamfalussy, spokesman for the EU police and justice mission known as EULEX, said the man, who identified himself as Nazim Bllaca, will appear before a judge on Tuesday.

Bllaca, whose video-recorded confession was aired on Kosovo media over the weekend, claimed he planned the executions of fellow ethnic Albanians suspected of collaborating with Serbia's regime, senior politicians from a rival political party and war crime witnesses in the aftermath of the 1998-99 Kosovo war. He carried out some of the killing himself, he said.

He says he acted on orders from former senior ethnic Albanian rebel commanders, some of whom are now part of Kosovo's government. Bllaca was a member of the now disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army that fought Serbia in an independence war.

His arrest is bound to further strain the fragile coalition of ruling ethnic Albanian political parties that has suffered a setback following last month's local poll. No clear winners emerged, and the main political rivals face a mid-December run off in elections for mayors and local councils in most of Kosovo's 36 municipalities.

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The governing coalition is made up of Prime Minister Hashim Thaci's Democratic Party of Kosovo, and its junior partner, Democratic League of Kosovo of late pacifist President Ibrahim Rugova.

The two were, in the past, bitter political rivals, and the coalition deal struck in 2007 was hailed as a breakthrough between the former fighters and moderate forces that advocated peaceful resistance.