EU Judge Puts Kosovo Lawmaker Under House Arrest

Posted September 22nd, 2011 at 6:40 pm (UTC-5)
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Kosovo parliament member and ruling party politician Fatmir Limaj has been ordered to to spend one month under house arrest, by an EU judge, while he awaits trial on charges of war crimes and fraud.

Limaj, an ethnic Albanian and former Kosovo rebel leader, is accused of ordering the execution of two captured Serb policemen and torturing another Serb captive in 1999. He is also being investigated on charges of embezzling public funds while he was transport minister in the previous administration.

The proceedings against Limaj are part of the EU rule of law mission in Kosovo that is investigating war crimes committed during the 1998-99 Kosovo war. The date for his trial has not been set.

A U.N. court in the Hague acquitted Limaj of war crimes charges in 2005. He is one of the most influential figures in the party of Prime Minister Hashim Thaci.

Following pressure from international officials in Kosovo not to include corrupt officials in Kosovo's Cabinet, Limaj was forced to stay out of Mr. Thaci's second term in government. But he was elected into Kosovo's parliament.

During the late 1990s, Kosovo's ethnic Albanian separatists fought for independence from Serbia. Belgrade launched a bloody crackdown on Kosovo's Albanians, including civilians, prompting NATO bombing of Serbia. The United Nations took control of Kosovo in 1999 and Pristina declared independence from Serbia in 2008.

Former Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj is on trial for war crimes charges at the U.N. tribunal in The Hague.