Monday, April 11, 2005

Kosovo court finds 12 former UCK members guilty of killing family in 2001

Text of report by Nexhat Buzuku entitled "185 years imprisonment for 12 Albanians accused in Hajra case" published by the Kosovo Albanian newspaper Koha Ditore on 8 April

Gjilan [Gnjilane], 7 April: In the District Court of Gjilan, the case of the Hajra family from Drenas [Glogovac] ended on Thursday [7 April]. In the verdict read by international Judge Vinod Bolello, 12 Albanians from Drenas were sentenced to a total of 185 years in prison. Skender Halilaj, Burim Ramadani, Arsim Ramadani and Arben Kicina were sentenced to 30 years imprisonment each. Florim Kicina was sentenced to 21 years imprisonment. Blerim Kicina and Zeqir Kicina were sentenced to 11 years imprisonment each, and Muhharem Xhemajli, Adem Kicina, Bekim Morina, and Agim Gjilani were sentenced to four years imprisonment each. Kimete Krasniqi was sentenced to six years imprisonment in absentia.

The accused group from Drenas was found guilty of killing the Hajra family (Hamze, Miradije, Xhevdet, Mimoza and Adelina Hajra) and of the attempted murder of Pranvera Hajra, the only survivor in this case.

International Prosecutor Thomas Hickman pressed charges against the accused individuals because of a well-founded suspicion that they killed the Hajra family from Drenas out of revenge and for certain amounts of money, collaboration, failing to report the murder plot and possession of illegal arms. The prosecution said that the incriminating act, punishable by the Criminal Code of Kosova [Kosovo] and the Criminal Code of Yugoslavia, was committed in an organized manner, with assistance and cooperation.

The killing happened on 20 August 2001. The trial started on 4 November 2004. A total of 109 hearings were held, and a large number of witnesses were heard. All of the accused, now sentenced, were held in detention throughout the process.

As the injured party, Pranvera Hajra, the survivor in the killing of the Hajra family, requested compensation of 246,000 euros if the accused were found guilty of killing her family, but the international judge said that the compensation could only be requested through a civil process.

Vahide Braha, defence lawyer for Skender Halilajt, said that this is a political trial because all of those sentenced are former members of the UCK [Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA].

Destan Rukiqi, defence lawyer for Zeqir Kicina, said that the "panel of international judges did not have the courage to make a decision based on the result of evidence during the procedure, which did not prove their guilt and based on which the accused should have been released."

"It is true that on 20 August 2001, Hajra family was killed in a macabre manner, but no evidence proved that the accused are the killers," Rukiqi said.

Rukiqi believes that the international court made numerous procedural errors and did not show unbiased behaviour in making the decision. "The jury was under the influence of politics and the prolongation of the case, because the accused were held in detention for 33 months," he added.

Source: Koha Ditore, Pristina, in Albanian 8 Apr 05 p 1

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