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Kosovo Tribunal Says War Crimes Suspect Mustafa Taken Into Custody


Salih Mustafa is being transferred to the detention facilities of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers in The Hague, the statement said.

The Specialized Prosecutor's Office in Kosovo has made its first arrest, detaining the former head of the intelligence service of the Kosovo Security Force, Salih Mustafa, on the basis of an arrest warrant and a confirmed indictment issued by a pretrial judge of the Specialized Chambers of Kosovo.

The Kosovo Specialist Chambers, based in The Hague, said in a statement on September 24 that Mustafa would be transferred to its detention facilities in The Hague and "appear before the pretrial judge without undue delay."

He is the first ethnic Albanian to be arrested on war crimes charges arising from the 1990s conflict.

"Salih Mustafa was arrested today in Kosovo by the Specialist Prosecutor's Office, pursuant to an arrest warrant, transfer order, and confirmed indictment issued by a pretrial judge of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers," a statement from the Specialized Prosecutor's Office said.

The Hague-based Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC) for war crimes is mandated to look into allegations that members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) committed war crimes and crimes against humanity during the 1998-99 war to gain independence from Serbia.

It operates under Kosovar law but is based in the Netherlands to shield witnesses from intimidation.

Under the law on the KSC and Specialist Prosecutor's Office (SPO), police within the SPO have the "authority and responsibility" to exercise the same powers given to Kosovo police.

The law also provides that a person against whom an indictment has been confirmed shall, pursuant to an order or an arrest warrant of the KSC, be taken into custody, the statement said.

Kosovo's war of independence from Serbia left more than 10,000 people dead -- most of them ethnic Albanians from Kosovo. More than 1,600 people remain unaccounted for. The fighting ended after a 78-day NATO air campaign against Serbia.

Kosovo, which has a largely ethnic Albanian population, declared independence from Serbia in 2008, a move recognized by many Western states but not Serbia or its allies Russia and China.

In its most high-profile move so far, the SPO announced on June 24 that President Hashim Thaci and other prominent Kosovars were the subject of an indictment on suspicion of serious crimes, including "nearly 100 murders," enforced disappearances, and torture.

Thaci, who was a top UCK commander during the war, has said all of his actions were focused on the defense of Kosovo.

A pretrial judge at the SPO has yet to decide whether to put Thaci and the others on trial or throw out the case.

Thaci has told Kosovars that if he is tried, he will immediately resign and face the accusations.

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