Montenegro releases two suspects for war crimes in Kosovo
The High Court in Bjello Pole has released from detention the Serbian citizen, Živko Vuksanović, 62 years old, whose extradition Kosovo requested, as he is suspected of war crimes. Likewise, another suspect, who is wanted by Kosovo, has been released by the authorities in Montenegro.
Vuksanović's release from detention was confirmed to Radio Free Europe by this court.
Vuksanovic was in custody since October 1, awaiting the decision on whether or not to extradite him to Kosovo.
Although the Supreme Court on October 27 decided on the extradition of Vuksanović to Kosovo, on the same day, the former Minister of Justice, Marko Kovač, refused the request for extradition.
The newspaper in Podgorica, Pobjeda, said that Kovac justified his decision with the assessment that "there are suspicions of political persecution", arguing that Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms had been violated.
After making the decision on October 31, the Supreme Court released Vuksanovic, who remained in extradition detention for a month.
This was the second such decision of the former minister Kovač in a seven-day period, after on October 26 he also refused the extradition of Momcilo Vukotiqi, 61 years old, to Kosovo. His extradition was requested because he is suspected of war crimes in the territory of Peja in 1999, the Ministry of Justice confirmed for REL.
And then, Kovac referred to the European Convention on Human Rights.
Kovac made these decisions in the last week of his mandate in the Government of Prime Minister Dritan Abazović, a mandate that ended with the election of the Government of Millojko Spajić on October 31, 2023.
Vukotić was arrested in Montenegro on September 25 on an INTERPOL warrant issued by the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), based on the 2002 memorandum of understanding between INTERPOL and UNMIK, which aims to exchange information, arrest warrants, international investigations and criminal cases.
Before his arrest, one of the leaders of the recently disbanded pro-Serb Democratic Front, Millan Knethević, called on the then technical Government of Abazović not to get involved in the arrest of Serbs and Montenegrins displaced from Kosovo.
Vukotić has also been released from detention, the Supreme Court confirmed.
The citizen of Kosovo, Ilir Bershia, 48 years old, who was arrested in Montenegro at the beginning of October, is awaiting the decision on extradition to Kosovo and is in custody.
He was arrested by order of UNMIK and INTERPOL under suspicion of war crimes against the civilian population in Kosovo in 1999. The High Court in Podgorica has ordered him to be detained pending a decision on the issue of extradition.
Since the end of the war in Kosovo, about 70 people have been convicted of war crimes before local and international institutions.
From 2000 to 2008, war crimes in Kosovo were investigated by the United Nations Mission, while from 2008, the European Union Rule of Law Mission was responsible for war crimes investigations.
In 2018, this mission submitted documents to the Kosovo Prosecutor's Office and local courts./REL