HLC-Kosovo: Fair Trial and Judgment of a Serb for Quadruple Murder in Kosovo

International Juvenile Trial Chamber of the Priština/Prishtinë District Court, presided by Judge Dennis Luebke, rendered a judgment on 10 February 2009 convicting MS for a quadruple aggravated murder and two attempted murders committed in June 1999 in Priština/Prishtinë and sentenced him to the maximum sentence of 10 years in jail. MS was a juvenile at the time of the commission of the crime.

The trial of MS was fair and conducted in accordance with the provisions of the Kosovo laws regulating criminal proceedings against juveniles. The maximum sentence the court rendered represents only a partial satisfaction for the victims and victims’ families, who expect other perpetrators of the crime to be brought to justice.

The summary indictment filed on 18 November 2008, charged MS with the murder of Albanians Arijanit Berisha, Uran Ajeti, Venet Bajramaj and Nezir Gashi and infliction of bodily harm to Ardijan Gashi on 15 June 1999 in Priština suburb called Sunčani breg, committed in concert with other three individuals of Serb ethnicity who are still at large. Arijanit Berisha, Uran Ajeti and Venet Bajramaj were killed on the scene, while Nezir Gashi died several days after the incident.

During the main hearing, which was held in private sessions, the court examined six prosecution witnesses, one defence witness, and one prosecution witness on whose testimony the defence insisted. The court also admitted into evidence the statements given by prosecution witnesses read out during the pre-trial proceedings. SM denied any involvement in the acts with which he was charged.

The extraordinary efficiency of the court in this trial should serve as a standard in trials for serious violations of human rights in Kosovo.