Kosovo jails former minister for denying a warfare bloodbath

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PRISTINA (Information) – A court docket in Kosovo has sentenced a lawmaker who as soon as served as a authorities minister to 2 years in jail for denying a bloodbath by Serb forces in 1999 which prompted NATO’s intervention to halt the warfare.

Ivan Todosijevic was serving as a minister within the Pristina authorities in March this yr when he described NATO as an aggressor, declared the “Racak bloodbath was fabricated” and known as Albanians “terrorists”.

Serbs killed 44 Albanians within the village of Racak in 1999 earlier than NATO went to warfare to drive Serb forces out of Kosovo, ending a counter-insurgency warfare during which greater than 13,000 folks, primarily native Albanians, have been killed.

Kosovo’s 90-percent ethnic Albanian majority praises NATO for halting the warfare, a growth that paved the best way to independence in 2008.

Within the ruling the choose mentioned Todosijevic’s remarks, throughout a commemoration of the beginning of the NATO bombing, “deliberately incited and publicly promoted hatred, division and intolerance amongst nationwide, racial and ethnic teams residing in Kosovo.”

Todosijevic’s lawyer mentioned his consumer, who was subsequently dismissed from his job as a minister due to his feedback, would attraction in opposition to the decision.

“The decision is a proof that human rights are being violated in Kosovo. My consumer is sentenced for one thing which isn’t even thought-about a felony act,” lawyer Nebojsa Vlajic instructed Serb media.

Serb President Aleksandar Vucic mentioned the decision was “terrifying”.

Kosovo has been acknowledged by greater than 110 states however not by 5 EU member states, Serbia and Russia.

Serbia’s former southern province, Kosovo continues to be seen by Serbia as a part of its territory. Many Serbs take into account Kosovo the cradle of their nation and Orthodox Christian religion.

Todosijevic comes from the Serb minority which accounts for about 5 % of the nation’s inhabitants of 1.eight million. Serbs in Kosovo refuse to just accept Kosovo’s statehood.

After 78 days of bombing, underneath the phrases of an armistice, former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic ordered his troops to withdraw from Kosovo and get replaced with NATO management.

Lower than four,000 NATO peacekeepers are nonetheless deployed.

Reporting by Fatos Bytyci; Further reporting by Ivana Sekularac in Belgrade, Modifying by William Maclean