Kosovo Convicts Wartime Guerrilla of Kidnapping Suspected Collaborator

Prizren Basic Court on Tuesday convicted former Kosovo Liberation Army member, Remzi Shala, known by the nom de guerre Molla e Kuqe (The Red Apple) of committing a war crime by kidnapping an ethnic Albanian man from Duhel, a village in the Suhareka/Suva Reka area, during the Kosovo war.

"During the war in Kosovo, on June 26, 1998 at around 11pm, in the village of Duhel, as a member of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), in uniform and armed with a rifle, along with five to six unidentified KLA members, armed and with masks on their faces, went to [the victim] H.P.'s house and took him hostage because of the suspicion that he was cooperating with Serbian forces," the judges said.

The dead body of the victim, Haxhi Perteshi, was found a few days later, on July 1, 1998, at the end of a road in Duhel.

Shala was sentenced to nine-and-a-half years in prison.

He had denied any wrongdoing, telling the court in October 2022 that while serving with the KLA during its war against Serbian forces, "I killed soldiers, I killed policemen, I attacked non-stop, [but] I didn't have anything to do with the civilian population".

He was initially sentenced to 14 years in prison in 2019, but the Court of Appeal reduced his sentence to ten years.

The Supreme Court then overturned the conviction, sending the case for retrial in April 2020.

Tuesday's verdict was a first-instance ruling and can be appealed.

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