Kosovo court convicts 1 Serb, 1 Albanian of 1999 war crimes

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PRISTINA, Kosovo — A Kosovo court on Tuesday jailed a Serb former police officer and an Albanian policeman convicted of murder and other war crimes during the 1998-1999 war in the former Serbian province.

The Pristina court sentenced the Serb defendant, only identified as Z.K., to 14.5 years' imprisonment and the Albanian identified as D.Sh. to seven years' imprisonment. Both were arrested in Kosovo in 2019.

The verdict said that in March 1999 Z.K. was part of Serb police forces who together with paramilitaries and army troops went to the Nerodime e Eperme village, 46 kilometres (30 miles) south of the capital Pristina, and burned down the house of a 19-member family. Four family members were taken away, tortured and killed. The court fund that the Serb forces tried to conceal the crime by “throwing the murdered bodies away.”

Judges also ruled that few days later D. Sh., a police inspector, assisted in “treating in a derogatory way the four bodies,” throwing them in a mass grave while “not keeping notes on their identity and not leaving any sign identifying (the site) as a cemetery,” according to the court statement.

It is not clear whether Kosovar authorities have found the buried bodies and the mass grave.

Both may appeal the verdict.

Kosovo was a Serb province until a 1998-1999 insurrection by ethnic Albanian rebels sparked a bloody Serbian crackdown. That pushed NATO to carry out a 78-day bombing campaign to force Serbian troops out of Kosovo.

The war left more than 10,000 dead.

Kosovo declared independence in 2008 which Serbia has not recognized.

The Associated Press