War Crimes Prosecutor’s Appeal Upheld
The Serbian Supreme Court overruled the judgement of the Belgrade War Crimes Chamber which had acquitted Sinan Morina, a one-time member of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), of all charges that he had committed a war crime against Serbian civilians in Kosovo in 1998.
The Supreme Court sent the case back to the War Crimes Chamber for re-trial. The appeal against the first instance judgement, which had acquitted Morina due to a lack of evidence, was raised by the war crimes prosecutor. The Supreme Court in its reasoning stated that the prosecutor had refuted the legality and comprehensiveness of the established facts of the case and as a result the Supreme Court overruled the first instance judgement.
The War Crimes Chamber acquitted Morina in December 2007 due to a lack of evidence. Morina was charged with participating – together with 34 members of the KLA – in the expulsion, imprisonment, torture and rape of Serbian civilians as well as the destruction of their property in the Orahovac municipality and the destruction of the Orhodox church in the village of Opteruša between July 17th and 21st 1998.
More than twenty witnesses gave testimony during the trial, which began on 17 October 2007. At the outset of his trial, Morina denied all accusations, saying he had fled Kosovo and was in neighbouring Albania when the crimes happened and that he was never a member of the KLA.
According to the indictment, it is alleged that Morina transferred 17 imprisoned civilians to the village of Zočište and after that to the village of Samodreža and from there unknown members of his unit took the male civilians to Volujak where they killed them.
The bodies of the killed men were found in a pit in Volujak in April 2005 and in 2006 they were identified and handed over to the families of the victims.
Morina was captured on December 28th 2006 in Montenegro.