Serb Duško Arsić sentenced to 13 years in prison for war crimes in Kosovo

Serb Duško Arsić sentenced to 13 years in prison for war crimes in Kosovo

fdh_kosovo_logoOn February 2, 2024, the Trial Panel of the Special Department of the Basic Court in Pristina pronounced the verdict against the accused Duško Arsić, declaring him guilty of war crimes against the civilian population and sentencing him to 13 years in prison.

According to the court, the accused Duško Arsić, in collaboration with other members of the Serbian forces during the period from January to June 1999, participated in the expulsion, looting, burning of property, mistreatment, and killing of Albanian civilians in the municipality of Pristina, with a particular focus on the mistreatment of Artan Krasniqi.

During the main hearing, the victim Artan Krasniqi and other witnesses proposed by the prosecution primarily testified about the event on April 20, 1999, which occurred in the village of Butovc/Butovac in the Municipality of Pristina, where, according to the victim Artan Krasniqi, the accused Duško Arsić participated in his physical and psychological mistreatment. At that moment, someone from the members of the Serbian forces group, of which the accused was also a part, fired firearms towards Brahim Shala, who was located tens of meters away from the victim and who had been injured and later found dead.

Despite this, the court declared the accused guilty also for participation in expulsion, looting, burning of property, mistreatment of civilians, and the killing of other civilian victims, referring to the actions or acts carried out by the Serbian forces in the region of Pristina during the period from January to June 1999, for which actions direct evidence that could be linked to the individual responsibility of the accused has not been provided. In the announcement of the verdict, specific incriminating actions of the accused were mentioned only in connection with the physical and psychological mistreatment of the victim Artan Krasniqi.

The Humanitarian Law Center Kosovo considers that a concerning trend is emerging in war crimes judgments. In these cases, the individual actions of the accused are not clearly outlined but are instead generalized as actions of a group. This creates the impression that a group member is being convicted for the wrongdoing of other individuals.

The accused Arsić was arrested on December 8, 2021, by the Kosovo Police, and an indictment was filed on November 2, 2022. Since the day of arrest, the accused Arsić has been in pre-trial detention.

Against this verdict, the parties have the right to appeal to the Court of Appeals.