EU judge detains senior Kosovo politician

AP News
Posted: Sep 22, 2011 4:56 PM
EU judge detains senior Kosovo politician

A senior Kosovo politician and former rebel leader suspected of war crimes was ordered by a European Union judge Thursday to spend a month under house arrest.

Fatmir Limaj's passport was seized as part of the ruling. The EU rule of law mission that investigates war crimes committed during the 1998-99 Kosovo war said the decision by a pretrial judge was made at the request of the prosecutor during Limaj's hearing in Pristina's District Court.

Limaj will be tried for allegedly ordering the execution of two captured Serb policemen and torturing another Serb captive in 1999.

The decision follows a ruling by Kosovo's Constitutional Court saying lawmakers are not immune from criminal prosecution.

The Kosovo legislator and former transport minister is also being investigated for embezzling public funds. He is one of the most influential figures in the party of Prime Minister Hashim Thaci that runs a coalition government.

The crimes allegedly took place in central Kosovo between early 1999 and June 1999, when Kosovo came under U.N. and NATO control.

In 2005, a U.N. war crimes court cleared the former rebel commander of charges he tortured and killed ethnic Albanian detainees in a similar prison camp in the same area of Kosovo. At the time, the court said there was not enough evidence to prove the allegations.

Following pressure from international officials in Kosovo not to include corrupt officials in Kosovo's Cabinet, he was forced to stay out of Thaci's second term in government after winning the December general elections, but was elected into the 120-seat legislature.