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First Kosovo war crimes suspect in court

Charged with arbitrary detention, cruel treatment, torture

28 September, 17:50
(ANSA-AFP) - THE HAGUE, 28 SET - A former separatist commander became the first person to appear before an international court probing Kosovo's 1990s independence war on Monday, facing charges including murder and torture. Salih Mustafa, 48, a senior member of the ethnic Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) during the 1998-9 conflict, was arrested last week and transferred to the Kosovo Specialist Chambers based in The Hague. Mustafa is charged with the arbitrary detention, cruel treatment and torture of at least six civilians at a detention compound in Zllash, Kosovo in April 1999, and the murder of one prisoner. The court was set up in 2015 to probe alleged atrocities by the KLA, whose guerrillas fought for the independence of Kosovo from Serbia. Removing a mask that he was required to wear because of coronavirus measures, Mustafa spoke to confirm his personal details including that he is now an adviser in the Kosovo defence ministry. Asked by judge Nicolas Guillou if he wanted to plead guilty or not guilty during his first appearance before the court, Mustafa replied: "I won't enter a plea today, I will consult my lawyer." (ANSA-AFP).

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