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Written reasoning of the Basic Court in Prishtina, for the acquittal of 12 accused in the case “Veterans”

Three months after the decision of the Basic Court in Prishtina, by which the 12 accused in the “Veterans” case were acquitted of the indictment, the trial panel chaired by Nushe Kukaj-Mekaj, has completed the drafting of this judgment.

In this case, the former Prime Minister of Kosovo, Agim Çeku, the former Minister of Defense, Rrustem Berisha, the deputy Shkumbin Demalijaj, Nuredin Lushtaku, Sadik Halitjaha, Qelë Gashi, Shukri Buja, Ahmet Daku are accused of abusing their official position or authority. Faik Fazliu, Smajl Elezaj, Fadil Shurdhaj and Xhavit Jashari, reports “Oath for Justice”.

They were accused of abusing their official position, while being part of the Government Commission for the Recognition and Verification of the Status of National Martyr, Invalid, Veteran, Member and Internee of the KLA War, causing damage to the budget of Kosovo in the amount of 88,769,217.04 euros.

The SPRK claimed that with these actions of the defendants, the budget of the Republic of Kosovo was damaged in the amount of 88,769,217.04 euros.

According to the written judgment provided by the “Oath of Justice”, the Basic Court in Prishtina has stated that the Special Prosecution had failed to prove the will of the accused to commit the criminal offense of abuse of office.

“SPRK, has failed to separate the incriminating actions of the accused committed in collusion, included them in a general way, not taking into account the verification of the factual situation otherwise in the main trial with the administered evidence, which was undoubtedly confirmed that not all the accused had been part of KVSH at the same time “, it is stated in the reasoning of the court.

According to the court, although the defendants had been aware of the increase in the number of beneficiaries of the post-war categories, this fact was not related to the defendants’ intent to commit the criminal offense.

“In the context of this from the proven factual situation, all the accused, for the time they were part of KVSH, based on all decisions taken, as a result of work, debates, ambiguities, legal clarifications, working methodology in in general, at no point did they indicate the intention for the process to end as irregular, on the contrary, their intention was for everything to end within the legal framework “, it is stated in the court’s reasoning.

The court reasoned that the increase in the number of veterans lists had come as a result of different definitions of categorization of war veteran by the two existing laws and not by the actions of the accused.

“Therefore, given that the two laws were in force at the same time and defined the categorization of the war veteran differently from each other, it has made the increase in number evident even though from the debates conducted by KVSH, it has been clearly observed that during all the time KVSH had appealed to respect the laws. “The increase of combat veterans does not turn out to be related to the actions of the accused, as claimed by the SPRK”, it is stated in the reasoning of the court.

The court also noted that the SPRK had failed to prove that the defendants in co-perpetration and intentionally failed to perform their official duties or exceeded their powers in order to gain material benefit for others.

According to the court, the SPRK had described the actions of the defendants in a general manner, not specifying the tasks of the SCC or which powers it exceeded.

“So, from the factual description of the criminal offense, it results that the incriminating actions alleged by the SPRK are generalized, it has not determined what were the duties of the chairman of KVSH, what were the duties of the members of KVSH, or what competencies exceeded the chairman of KVSH, which the members of KVSH did not clearly define which official duty each of them did not fulfill, it was enough to base the incriminating actions exclusively on the conversations held in KVSH meetings, making their selections “, it is said in the reasoning of the court.

The court further states that it had established that all the accused had the will and intention for the process to go smoothly and had no intention of committing the criminal offense.

“And in this case, this court confirmed that it was the will of all that the process be completed within the legal framework. The increase in the number of beneficiaries of the post-war categories does not result as a result of the actions taken by the accused here as part of the KVSH. Based on the proven factual situation, the accused who were present at the 27th meeting of KVSH, turn out to be concerned about the increased number and were before an act performed, as they had no more than 7 days left until the conclusion , so that the lists were concluded as they were, with an accompanying statement from the representatives of the areas, while the accused Çeku, as chairman of KVSH, compiled a report on the completion of the lists for the category of veterans, leaving the opportunity to the Government, to act in accordance with the legal provisions, if there were doubts that the process had not gone well “, it is stated in the reasoning.

According to the court, the SPRK had not argued the intent of the accused to commit the criminal offense, however, the same according to the court was sufficient to argue the intent only on the basis of debates held in KVSH meetings, bypassing the decisions taken by this commission.

“From the above confirmed as a conclusion, the SPRK has failed to prove its allegations, including the subjective element (intent) of the criminal offense. It was enough to base the will of the accused in a general way on the debates held in the meetings of KVSH, not giving importance to the decisions taken in KVSH, which decisions did not assess at all whether they were taken in support of the laws in power. This court has given sufficient explanations, regarding each claim separately, related to the actions of the accused during the verification process, which actions have resulted in the adoption of decisions deemed lawful by the court, which automatically exclude the intent of the accused, to bring to others illegal property gain to the detriment of the budget of the Republic of Kosovo ”, it is further stated in the reasoning of the court.

The court also assessed that the SPRK had failed to accurately verify whether the number of 19,500 war veteran applicants was illegal or not.

“The SPRK also failed to prove accurately and completely that the number of 19,500 veteran combatant applicants, whether they are really illegal beneficiaries or not, was enough to make the division of 46,230, based on the description of the application by compared to the definition of article 3 point 1.3.2 of Law no. 04 / L-261, not taking into account the provision of article 3 point 1.9 of Law no. 04 / L-054, from which law the definition of a war veteran was provided differently, a fact confirmed by all witnesses, including the accused who gave the defense “, it is stated in the reasoning of the court.

Regarding the allegation of damage to the budget of 88,769,217.04 euros, the court reasoned that it could not prove exactly whether this amount was as a result of illegal benefit from the lists of veterans, as according to the Court it was not proven whether 19,500 applicants were beneficiaries. illegal or not.

In addition, the court argues that no damage to the budget was established, as the MLSW stated that there was only one judgment requesting the termination of the pension.

Regarding the material evidence, information of MLSW, regarding the total amount of damage dated 06.12.2018, based on each SPRK, claims that this evidence proves that 19,500 people benefit illegally and the total amount until then was 88,769. 217.04 €, with which it is alleged that the budget of the Republic of Kosovo was damaged, which evidence was opposed by all defendants and their defense counsels, on the grounds that MLSW, in cooperation with the Government, in case of doubt had the opportunity to stop further gain. Therefore, regarding this evidence, this court could not prove correctly that it really is an illegal benefit under the circumstances mentioned in the position given regarding the lists of 19,500 persons, given the fact that the representative of the injured party, in the final word has said that in MLSW, only a final decision has been reached for which the termination of the benefit has been requested and according to the judgment he had benefited based on a forged certificate, a fact which is not related to the actions of KVSH “, it is stated in the reasoning of the court.

Otherwise, the Basic Court in Prishtina, on June 19, 2019, had confirmed the indictment in this case, while this decision was also confirmed by the Court of Appeals in August 2019.

The SPRK indictment also requested that the Basic Court in Prishtina order the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare (MLSW) to suspend the payment of pensions to 19,500 veterans until the end of the trial.

But, on April 1, 2019, the court rejected this request on the grounds that the proposal for the interim measure is not against the accused, but against the MLSW, as a third party.

However, after the hearings held, the Basic Court in Prishtina, on January 19, 2021, announced a verdict of acquittal against the accused in this case.

According to the indictment prepared by the former special prosecutor, Elez Blakaj, the persons involved were accused that from 2011 to 2017, acting as members of the Government Commission for the Recognition and Verification of the Status of National Martyr, Invalid, Veteran, Member and Kosovo Liberation Army War Internees, have used their official duty and authority, deliberately exceeding their competencies and not fulfilling their official duties, in order to benefit other persons illegally, continuously, to the detriment of the Budget of the Republic of Kosovo.

This indictment includes 12 persons, who were charged with the criminal offense of “abuse of official position or authority”.

According to the media, the list of accused persons was headed by Agim Çeku, followed by Nuredin Lushtaku, Sadik Halitjaha, Shkumbin Demaliaj, Qelë Gashi, Shukri Buja, Ahmet Daku, Rrustem Berisha, Faik Fazliu, Smajl Elezaj, Fadil Shurdhaj and Xhavit Jashari.

The SPRK had also proposed to this court to issue the measure to stop the payment of illegally earned pensions as a veteran of the KLA, until the end of the criminal proceedings.

Further, according to the SPRK, from the evidence provided it was established that from the illegal payments to KLA combat veterans, the budget of the Republic of Kosovo was damaged in the amount of 68,153,533.14 euros.

Whereas, with the indictment submitted to the court on December 7, 2018, it was alleged that the budget of the Republic of Kosovo was damaged in the amount of 88,769,217.04 euros.

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