"Drenica 1"

Sylejman Selimi innocent in the charge of mistreatment of a person

Sylejman Selimi

"After evaluating these statements, the judging panel has drawn the conclusion that initially it was not possible to prove which person violated the body integrity and health of the accused, due to the fact that it was not possible to identify him, nor was it possible to identify other potential witnesses of which the testimony of witness A would be supported. This court places special emphasis on the fact that the testimony of a witness alone without support in any other evidence was insufficient in the present case to meet the standard of proof in cases of war crimes", said the chairman of the court, Ngadnjim Arrni, during the announcement of the verdict

The former commander-in-chief of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), Sylejman Selimi, and ex-fighter Jahir Demaku were acquitted on Thursday of charges of war crimes at the Basic Court in Pristina. 

The jury in the retrial of the "Drenica 1" case, chaired by judge Ngadnjim Arrni, found that there is no evidence that Selimi and Demaku mistreated a person from Shipoli i Mitrovica in Likoc i Skenderaj, in the period August-September 1998. 

"After evaluating these statements, the judging panel has drawn the conclusion that initially it was not possible to prove which person violated the physical integrity and health of the accused, due to the fact that it was not possible to identify him, nor was it possible to identify other potential witnesses of which the testimony of witness A would be supported. This court places special emphasis on the fact that the testimony of a witness alone without support in any other evidence was insufficient in the present case to meet the standard of proof in cases of war crimes", said Arrni during the announcement of the judgment. 

Artan Qerkini, Selim's lawyer, said that the decision was expected since it was based only on the testimony of witness "A".

"The statements of witness 'A' regarding this point of the indictment have been extremely contradictory and have not been supported by other evidence, therefore, as such, they have not met the standard required by the court so that a person can be found guilty. Let's not forget that the first instance court of EULEX had decided the same, but the second instance court had changed the decision and after the request for protection of legality the case was returned to reinstatement and of course we are satisfied with this decision" , he said. 

Selimi and Demaku have been previously convicted for war crimes, namely mistreatment of detainees in Likoc. But the case for which it was judged recently has been returned to a retrial, as the only point of the indictment.

In 2015, the Basic Court in Mitrovica sentenced Selim to eight years in prison for ill-treatment of detainees in the village of Likoc. With the judgment of this court, Jahir Demaku, Zeqir Demaku and Isni Thaçi were also sentenced to seven years in prison, while Nexhat Demaku, Agim Selmani, Driton e Bashkim Demaj and Fadil Demaku were sentenced to three years in prison. 

In 2016, the Court of Appeal reduced Sylejman Selim's sentence for one year. And, after the appeals of the defense to the Supreme Court, this court returned the case to a retrial only for point 6 of the indictment, for which Selimi and Demaku were acquitted on Thursday. 

The "Drenica 1" case is one of 13 judicial processes that have not been conducted in the Basic Court in Mitrovica since 2019, since by the decision of the Judicial Council (KJC) they were transferred to the Basic Court in Pristina in January of this year. 

The detention of Albanian civilians in Likoc was also mentioned in the trial of the former leaders of the KLA General Staff - Hashim Thaçi, Kadri Veseli, Rexhep Selimi and Jakup Krasniqi in the Specialized Chambers in The Hague.