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War crime accused takes the oath in Kosovo

Newly elected mayor of the Municipality of Skenderaj/Srbica, Sami Lushtaku, was briefly taken from the Mitrovica detention center on Friday to his hometown to take the oath for third term in office.

The procedure took some ten minutes, and the defendant was later sent back to the detention center.

Accompanied by police officers, Lushtaku was taken to the Municipal Assembly of Skenderaj/Srbica, for the oath in a brief procedure behind closed doors.

However, about 200 people showed their support to him by gathering in front of the assembly building.

Lushtaku, a former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) commander in central Kosovo, is in detention since May 2013 under war crime charges. Even in detention, Lushtaku was elected the mayor of the municipality on Nov. 3 elections with an overwhelmed support of 88 percent of the voters even though he did not attended the election campaign at all.

Initially, the court had rejected his call to shortly be released for taking the oath, however on Dec. 20, the Court of Appeals "granted the application from his lawyer to release the defendant in order for him to take the oath" under some conditions.

Lushtaku returned to the detention center immediately after taking the oath. EU Rule of law (EULEX) police was instructed to be present to avoid possible escalation of the situation.

Lushtaku is one of 15 detained former KLA members known as the "Drenica Group" suspected of committing war crimes dating from 1998-99 war, when KLA fought Serbian forces.

[Source: Xinhua, Pristia, 03Jan14]

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The Question of Kosovo
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