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EU Mission Unhappy That Alleged Suspects Running In Kosovo Elections

Transport Minister Fatmir Limaj

Transport Minister Fatmir Limaj

PRISTINA -- A top official with the European Union's law-and-order mission in Kosovo (EULEX) says the mission is unhappy that Kosovar political parties are fielding candidates in the upcoming parliamentary elections who are under investigation or on trial for crimes, RFE/RL's Balkan Service reports.

Andy Sparkes, deputy head of EULEX, said on November 12 that when "someone is publicly known to be under investigation or judicial procedure, it would be better and more honorable, and better for the reputation of Kosovo, if they would not present themselves for public office until they have cleared their names."

The Democratic Party of Kosovo, the party of Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, has two people among its top 10 candidates who are currently under investigation by EULEX. One of them is Transportation Minister Fatmir Limaj.

"The law is clear and we are law-abiding citizens," Limaj said. "We respect the law and not the mood of people." His statement was echoed by other party officials, who underlined that a person is innocent until proven guilty.

Two other parliamentary parties have top candidates in the December 12 elections who are either on trial or have recently been found guilty of crimes.

The Alliance for the Future of Kosovo's Ramush Haradinaj is such a candidate. Haradinaj is facing a trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) at The Hague.

Another party leader seeking reelection is former parliament speaker Nexhat Daci, the head of the Democratic League of Dardania.

On November 10, a local court found Daci guilty of "misappropriation of office."

Kosovo's snap election in December is the first parliamentary election since the country declared independence in February 2008.