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Kosovo Acquits Nine Albanians Accused of Terrorism

Issue looms large on Pristina’s agenda as former Islamic State fighters return home. 7 December 2017

A Kosovo court in Pristina acquitted yesterday nine Albanians sentenced in 2013 to up to nine years in jail for a 2012 terror attack against a border post in southern Serbia. The court cited a lack of proof that the group had committed the crime, AP reports.

 

A Serb border guard was injured during the attack and international prosecutors of the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo had argued that the suspects used automatic weapons to carry out the assault.

 

The Supreme Court had found procedural mistakes in the original case, following an appeal.

 

Kosovo officials have long worried about possible terrorist attacks, and the government recently said that fighters returning home from conflict zones in the Middle East pose a very real threat.

 

 “As has been seen in many examples in Europe, radicalized individuals can commit acts of extreme violence against both the population and institutions in their own country, and therefore the risk that Kosovo might be targeted for such a terrorist attack cannot be excluded,” the document said, as cited by Balkan Insight.

 

In November 2016, Kosovo arrested 19 people suspected of having links to the Islamic State, as well as planning attacks in both Kosovo and neighboring Albania against an Israeli football team that was playing in the region, Balkan Insight writes. At that time, around 300 Kosovo Albanians had joined ISIS since the beginning of the conflict in Syria in 2011, according to reports cited by Balkan Insight.

 

Another issue undermining Kosovo’s stability is the Balkan country’s tetchy relationship with Serbia, which, to this day, doesn’t recognize its independence.

 

“Lack of progress has a negative impact in both Kosovo and Serbia,” writes The Washington Times. “Failure to fully integrate into the international system undermines Kosovo’s economy, which suffers from 30 percent unemployment and even higher youth unemployment. Lack of economic development has fueled an underground economy. Criminality, corruption and cronyism are widespread in the region.”

 

 

  • Last February, four men were arrested near the Visoki Decani monastery near Peja, Kosovo on charges of illegally possessing weapons. City prosecutors earlier said they suspected one of the men had fought alongside Islamic militants in Syria and that another had been stopped as he tried to reach the Middle East.

Compiled by Claudia Harmata

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