Friday, June 26, 2009

Serbia: Angry reaction to Bulgaria’s release of former Kosovo PM

Belgrade, 26 June (AKI) – Serbian leaders have reacted angrily to a Bulgarian court's decision to release former Kosovo prime minister and war crimes suspect Agim Ceku, whose extradition is being sought by Belgrade. Deputy prime minister Ivica Dacic said that the decision of Bulgaria’s court would not help “good neighbourly relations” between the two countries. Perhaps Ivica Dacic can start working for 'good neighbourly relations' with returning back the Bulgarian priests in Bosilegrad and Dimitrovgrad where the Bulgarian minority in Serbia resides.

Ceku was arrested on Tuesday at a border crossing between Macedonia and Bulgaria by police acting on a Serbian Interpol arrest warrant. But he was set free by a Bulgarian court on Thursday.

“Obviously, the work of Interpol is burdened by political pressures on judiciary organs,” said Dacic, who is also a police minister.

Ceku, who was Kosovo prime minister from 2006 to 2008, had been arrested on three previous occasions in Slovenia, Hungary and Colombia, but each time was released. If he was released previously than obviously Mr. Dacic should not throw in the 'good neighbourly relations' into the equation.

He was formerly a commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army which began a rebellion against Serbian rule in 1998, and has been held responsible by Serbian authorities for the deaths of 669 Serbs and 18 members of other minorities in Kosovo under the “chain of command" principle.

Although Serbia demanded Ceku’s extradition on the basis of the international arrest warrant, justice minister Snezana Malovic said she never got a reply from the Bulgarian government.

“This matter must be discussed seriously, because it hampers police cooperation in the struggle against crime, terrorism and war crimes,” Dacic said.

“Had something like that happened in Serbia, we would have reason to be ashamed tonight,” said foreign minister Vuk Jeremic, referring to the Bulgarian court decision.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia with the support of western powers last year and Belgrade has practically no jurisdiction over its former province, which was put under UN administration in 1999.

Kosovo president Fatmir Sejdiu was quoted by the Albanian daily Koha ditore on Friday saying Interpol should not act on the Serbian arrest warrant.

If it were up to Belgrade, all Kosovo leaders who fought for independence would be arrested, he said.

Amnesty International claimed on Thursday there was no reason why Ceku shouldn’t be extradited to Serbia. “The Bulgarian authorities should extradite Agim Ceku promptly to Serbia where his case should be prosecuted in line with international fair trial standards,” the statement said.

It called on the UN administration in Kosovo (UNMIK) not to obstruct Ceku's extradition.

Kosovo media reported that foreign diplomats and UNMIK had intervened on Ceku’s behalf, demanding his release.

Ceku himself has said that his extradition “wouldn’t be in anyone’s interest and would aggravate international relations”.

1 comment:

Boyan said...

I hope that the accusations and the critical statements of the Serbian Government are for domestic consumption because it is not in their interest to make a political issue out of a judicial matter.

Few years ago, Serbian Col Brankovich was released in a similar situation and but then the comments were completely different.

Good Neighborly Relations are essential especially on the Balkan Peninsula and the recipe is simple given mutual interest and political will everything is possible.