Appropriate sentences for the accused Musliu and Tahiri charged with kidnapping and extortion in Kosovo
On its decision of October 5, 2010 rendered in a retrial, the District Court in Gjilan/Gnjilan pronounced unified sentences for the accused Shefket Musliu and Besim Tahiri charged with the commission of the criminal act of kidnapping under Article 64 paragraphs 1, 2, and 4 of the CCS and an attempted criminal act of extortion under Article 180 of the CCS. The accused Musliu was sentenced to a unified prison sentence of 10 years and six (6) months in prison while Besim Tahiri was sentenced to six (6) years and nine (9) months in prison.
The Humanitarian Law Center Kosovo believes that the decision is fair and properly based on the law and that the decision is commensurate with the gravity of the criminal act. On the one hand, this decision will have a deterrent effect on potential perpetrators of this kind of criminal acts and on the other hand it offers moral satisfaction to the victims.
The accused Musliu was sentenced on charges of kidnapping witness AK on September 8, 2001 in Novosellë/Novo Selo, in the Viti/Vitina municipality, an act he committed in co-conspiracy with unidentified perpetrators. The accused ordered witness AK, who was in his vehicle at the time of the kidnapping, to follow him to a garage. When they reached the garage, the accused locked witness AK inside and tortured him for about half an hour in an attempt to force him to disclose information concerning his detention order. The accused was also charged with attempted extortion from witness One, committed on April 24, 2002 in Gjilan/Gnjilan, when Musliu, holding in his hands something that looked like a firearm, stopped a vehicle driven by witness One and asked him to give him all his money; the kidnapping of witnesses Three and Four committed in September 2000 in the village of Dobërqan/Dobročane in co-conspiracy with the accused Besim Tahiri, on which occasion the witnesses were held as hostages for a couple of days.
Criminal proceedings began on December 9, 2003 when the indictment against Shefqet Musliu, Besim Tahiri, Jeton Arifi, and Feriz Qerimi was raised. On December 18, 2003, an indictment was additionally raised against Xhevedet Musliu. The amended indictment raised on January 21, 2004 charged the accused Musliu with the kidnapping of witnesses Three, Four, AK, and FY, attempted extortion, illegal possession of firearms, and criminal association. The accused Besim Tahiri was charged with participation in the kidnapping of witness Three, Fur, and FY, and illegal possession of firearms. The accused Jeton Arifi was charged with participation in the kidnapping of witnesses Three and Four and criminal association. The accused Feriz Qerimi was charges with kidnapping of witness FY, illegal possession of firearms, and criminal association, and the accused Xhevdet Musliu was charged with extortion and causing general danger.
The first-instance trial began on February 16, 2004 before a mixed trial panel at the District Court in Gjilan/Gnjilan and ended on June 25, 2004. The accused Shefqet Musliu was found guilty and sentenced to a unified prison sentence of twelve (12) years in prison. The accused Besim Tahiri was sentenced to a unified sentence of seven (7) years in prison, Feriz Qerimi was found guilty and sentenced to a unified prison of five (5) years, while Jeton Arifi and Xhevdet Musliu were acquitted of all charges. In an appeal decision, the Supreme Court of Kosovo partially overturned the first-instance decision with respect to the accused Musliu, Qerimi, and Tahiri and returned the case for a retrial concerning the criminal act of the kidnapping of victim/witness FY.
The District Court in Gjilan/Gnjilan started a new main hearing on September 1, 2010 against the accused Musliu and Tahiri because the accused Qerimi had died in the meantime. Since the prosecutor had, in the meantime, dropped charges for the kidnapping of victim/witness FY due to a lack of evidence, the trial panel reduced their previous sentences. While preparing for the main hearing, the Court attempted to locate victim/witness FY and in order to obtain his address, the Court contacted the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Serbia. However, the response they got was that cooperation between Serbia and Kosovo in terms of offering legal support was suspended until further notice. Since it was not possible to hear the testimony of victim/witness FY and because there was no other evidence to corroborate the criminal responsibility of the accused, the Office of the Prosecutor had to drop all criminal charges against the accused.