Closing arguments in KLA war crimes case.

The War Crimes Chamber of the Higher Court in Belgrade will today hear closing arguments in the trial of the Gnjilane Group of the so-called KLA.

A total of 17 ethnic Albanians have been charged with torture and vicious murder of Serb and other civilians in the town of Gnjilane, eastern Kosovo, in 1999.

The judges will set the date for the reading of the verdicts, after the defense and the prosecution give their closing statements today.

Those undergoing trial in Belgrade were arrested in Preševo in late 2008, and include Aguš Memiši, Faton Hajdari, Ahmet Hasani, Nazif Hasani, Samet Hajdari, Ferat Hajdari, Kamber Sahiti, Selimon Sadiku and Burim Fazliju.

Eight more members of the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) have been indicted, and they are Fazlija Ajdari, Redžep Aliji, Šair Šairi, Šefket Musliji, Sadik Aliji, Idriz Aliji, Šemsija Nuhiju and Ramadan Halimi.

However, they remain fugitives from justice, and their trial has been separated from the current one.

The defendants are standing trial for committing cruel murder of at least 80 civilians - Serbs, other non-Albanians, and some Albanians, while torturing 153 others, who were later released.

The prosecution believes that some of the group's victims died in their homes and in the streets, but most were taken to a basement of a boarding school in Gnjilane, where they were tortured and mutilated to death.

In order to cover up the crimes, the victims' bodies were butchered, placed in bags, and dumped into garbage, or into nearby Lake Livoko.

[Source: B92, Belgrade, 16Dec10].

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