Press

Press Release
PROSECUTION
(Exclusively for the use of the media. Not an official document)
 

The Hague, 18 February 2003
FH-CC/ P.I.S/ 729e

Haradin Bala, Isak Musliu, and Agim Murtezi Transferred to the ICTY following their Indictment for Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes

"Fatmir Limaj also indicted but allowed to escape", says Prosecutor

On Tuesday 18 February 2003, Haradin Bala, Isak Musliu, and Agim Murtezi were transferred to the Detention Unit of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) following their detention in Kosovo by KFOR forces.

Signed by the Prosecutor on 24 January 2003, an Indictment against the accused was confirmed by Judge El Mahdi on 27 January and kept under seal until today’s transfer.

The Indictment also relates to a fourth accused, Fatmir Limaj. The ICTY Prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte stated that she is concerned that this accused "was allowed to leave Kosovo, two and a half weeks after KFOR had been in possession of the Indictment and the arrest warrant".

STATEMENT BY THE PROSECUTOR

From Podgorica (Montenegro), where she is currently visiting, Del Ponte issued the following statement:

"Following their detention by KFOR, Haradin Bala, Isak Musliu, Agim Murtezi are now being transferred to the Detention Unit of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague. The accused were arrested following an Indictment confirmed by Judge Al Mahdi on January 27, 2003, subsequently forwarded to KFOR and kept under an order of non disclosure until today.

According to the Indictment, the co-accused are charged with planning, instigating, ordering, committing, or otherwise aiding and abetting in the planning, preparation, or execution of acts or omissions such as imprisonment, violence and murder against Serb and Albanian civilians in the KLA Lapushnik prison camp in Kosovo, in 1998.

Of course, I wish to thank those KFOR members who carried out this operation. But, of more immediate concern, only three of the four co-accused on this Indictment have been arrested. The fourth co-accused, Fatmir Limaj, was able to leave Kosovo, last Friday February 14th, on a regular flight on a business trip. He was not on the run, he was not in hiding, he simply booked a flight ticket, and, as any ordinary citizen, was allowed to board his flight and leave. It was that easy. And it is outrageous. It escapes all understanding that Fatmir Limaj, a member of Parliament, a public figure, could be allowed to leave Kosovo with such ease, two and a half weeks after KFOR had been in possession of the Indictment and the arrest warrant.

Unless he decides to surrender voluntarily, Fatmir Limaj will be yet another name on our long list of indictees at large. As in the other cases, I fully share the sense of immense disappointment, disillusionment and frustration of the victims.

Once more, I cannot but urge the international community to face its responsibilities. It has established the Tribunal, it must allow it to complete its mandate. There can be no successful completion of our work if our accused are not arrested and transferred to The Hague. In no way do the failings of some parties justify lack of action by others. Belgrade, Zagreb, Podgorica, Banja Luka, KFOR, SFOR, all parties must respect their obligations."

THE INDICTMENT

The Indictment charges the four accused with crimes committed in 1998 in Lapusnik/Llapushnik Prison Camp of the KLA located in the municipality of Glogovac/Gllogoc in Kosovo.

Fatmir Limaj (a.k.a Celiku), Haradin Bala (a.k.a Shala), Isak Musliu (a.k.a Qerqiz) and Agim Murtezi (a.k.a Murrizi) are indicted on the basis of their individual criminal responsibility (Article 7(1) of the Statute); Fatmir Limaj is additionally indicted on the basis of his superior criminal responsibility (Article 7(3) of the Statute)

The Accused

Fatmir Limaj was born on 4 February 1971 in Banja, then in the municipality of Suva Reka in the autonomous province of Kosovo. Limaj was a commander in the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and was responsible for the operation of the Lapusnik/Llapushnik Prison Camp of the KLA located in the municipality of Glogovac/Gllogoc in Kosovo.

Haradin Bala was born on 10 June 1957 in Gornja Koretica/Koroticë E Epërme in the municipality of Glogovac/Gllogoc in Kosovo. Bala was a member of the KLA and a commander/guard at the Lapusnik/Llapushnik Prison Camp.

Isak Musliu was born on 31 October 1970 in Racak/Recak in the municipality of Stimlje/Shtime in Kosovo. Musliu was a member of the KLA and a commander/guard at the Lapusnik/Llapushnik Prison Camp.

Agim Murtezi was born 20 February 1956 in Cuculjaga/Qylagë in the municipality of Lipljan/Lipjan in Kosovo. Murtezi was a member of the KLA and a guard at the Lapusnik/Llapushnik Prison Camp.

Criminal Responsibility

According to the Indictment, Fatmir Limaj, Haradin Bala, Isak Musliu, and Agim Murtezi are charged for planning, instigating, ordering, committing, or otherwise aiding and abetting the planning, preparation, or execution of acts or omissions as intimidation, imprisonment, violence and murder against Serb civilians and Albanian civilians perceived by the KLA either as refusing to cooperate with or resisting the KLA by non-military means.

Fatmir Limaj exercised both de jure and de facto command and control over KLA members operating the Lapusnik/Llapushnik Prison Camp. He had the authority to discipline and punish subordinates who committed breaches of military discipline and/or illegal acts, including violations of international humanitarian law. As a superior officer, he bears responsibility for the acts of his subordinate if the superior knew or had reason to know that this subordinate was about to commit such acts or had done so and the superior failed to take the necessary and reasonable measures to prevent such acts or to punish the perpetrators thereof.

Factual Allegations

No later than early 1998, after years of increasing tension and violence, armed conflict commenced in Kosovo between Serb forces and the KLA. According to the Indictment, from in or about May 1998 through to on or about 25 July 1998, KLA forces under the command and control of Fatmir Limaj held at least 35 Serb and Albanian civilians from the municipalities of Stimlje/Shtime, Glogovac/Gllogoc, and Lipljan/Lipjan in the Lapusnik/Llapushnik Prison Camp under conditions that were brutal and inhumane, and routinely subjected them to physical and psychological assault, including torture and beatings. Fatmir Limaj, Haradin Bala, Isak Musliu, Agim Murtezi participated in maintaining and enforcing the inhumane conditions in the camp, which included inadequate food and medical care, and participated in or aided and abetted the torture and beatings of the detainees.

It is further alleged that on a date after 24 June 1998 but before 25 July 1998, KLA forces under the command and the control of Fatmir Limaj beat, tortured and murdered a number of Serb, non-Albanian and Albanian detainees at the prison camp). Haradin Bala and Isak Musliu participated in or aided and abetted the murder of six detainees.

According to the Indictment, shortly before 25 July 1998, Serb forces retook the area around the Lapusnik/Llapushnik Prison Camp. As a result, on 25 July 1998, the KLA abandoned the prison camp and Haradin Bala and Agim Murtezi marched approximately 22 detainees from the camp into the Berisa/Berisha mountains. On the way, they met up with Fatmir Limaj who gave orders to Haradin Bala and Agim Murtezi.

Shortly after, Haradin Bala divided the detainees into two groups. One group of approximately nine detainees was released. The other group of approximately 13 detainees was marched by Haradin Bala, Agim Murtezi and a third KLA soldier to a clearing in the woods. Haradin Bala, Agim Murtezi, and the third KLA soldier then shot them, killing 11 of the detainees.

The Charges

The Indictment charges Fatmir Limaj under the Articles 7 (1) and 7 (3) of the Statute with nine counts:

four counts of Crimes against humanity (Article 5 of the Statute – murder, torture, imprisonment) five counts of violations of the laws or customs of war (Article 3 of the Statute – murder, cruel treatment)

The Indictment charges Haradin Bala under the Article 7(1) of the Statute with nine counts:

four counts of Crimes against humanity (Article 5 of the Statute – murder, torture, imprisonment) five counts of violations of the laws or customs of war (Article 3 of the Statute – murder, cruel treatment)

The Indictment charges Isak Musliu and Agim Murtezi under the Article 7(1) with seven counts:

three counts of Crimes against humanity (Article 5 of the Statute – murder, torture, imprisonment) four counts of violations of the laws or customs of war (Article 3 of the Statute – murder, cruel treatment)

The initial appearance of the accused will be announced in due course.

*****

The full text of the Indictment will be available in English, Albanian and BCS on the ICTY Website: www.un.org/icty

*****
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

For more information, please contact our Media Office in The Hague
Tel.: +31-70-512-8752; 512-5343; 512-5356 Fax: +31-70-512-5355 - Email:
press [at] icty.org ()
Follow ICTY on
Twitter and Youtube