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The Prosecutor v. Naser Krasniqi, Nexhmi Krasniqi, Fatmir Limaj and Naser Shala

Court District Court of Pristina, Kosovo
Case number P425/11
Decision title Judgment
Decision date 2 May 2012
  • The Prosecutor
  • Naser Krasniqi
  • Nexhmi Krasniqi
  • Fatmir Limaj
  • Naser Shala
Other names
  • Klecka case
Categories War crimes
Keywords common Article 3, kill, torture, violence to person, war crimes
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In early 1998, escalating ethnic tensions and violence led to the break out of an armed conflict in Kosovo between Serbian forces and the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). Serbian and Albanian civilians were perceived as non-cooperative by the KLA and were subsequently targeted for intimidation, imprisonment, violence and murder. A number of Serbian military prisoners as well as Albanian civilian prisoners were detained at the Klecka detention centre by the KLA in inhumane conditions, exposed to cold, without adequate sanitation or proper nutrition. Prisoners were frequently beaten and a number amongst them were executed and their bodies buried in mass graves nearby. 

Fatmir Limaj, Naser Krasniqi, Nexhmi Krasniqi and Naser Shala were all KLA members; Limaj was the commander of the 121st Brigade. They were indicted by the Special Prosecutor for war crimes and stood trial before the District Court of Pristina, operating under European Union supervision in Kosovo. All Accused were acquitted by the District Court.

On appeal however, the Supreme Court ordered a retrial of all accused and held that key evidence from Limaj’s deputy who had died in Germany the previous year would be admissible in the new trial.

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Procedural history

On 25 July 2011, the EULEX Special Prosecutor filed with the Registry of the District Court of Pristina an indictment charging Naser Krasniqi, Nexhmi Krasniqi, Fatmir Limaj and Naser Shala with multiple counts of the war crimes of murder, violence to bodily integrity and health, torture.

The trial commenced on 11 November 2011 and concluded on 30 March 2012. 

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Related developments

The EULEX Special Prosecutor lodged an appeal against the verdict of the District Court.

On 20 November 2012, the Supreme Court ordered the retrial of the case finding that key evidence from a witness should be considered as admissible.

On 24 November 2012, the District Court of Pristina granted the Special Prosecutor’s request and ordered one-month detention on remand for all four accused. This was subsequently increased to an additional two months’ detention.

See also Balkan Transitional Justice, 'Second Part of Klecka Case Sent for Retrial', 12 December 2012; and Kosova Press, 'Another Two Months Detention on Remand for Limaj', 21 December 2012.

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Legally relevant facts

An undefined number of Serbian and Albanian civilians and Serbian military prisoners were detained in the Klecka detention center by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in what is alleged to be inhumane condiyions, including being chained, in excessive cold, with a lack of proper sanitation and inadequate nutrition, and subject to frequent beatings (pp. 1-2, 4).

A Kosovar-Albanian civilian, who was detained at Klecka and then released, is alleged to have been shot by Naser and Nexhmi Krasniqi, Naser Shala and other KLA members (p. 2, 6-8).

Four Serbian military prisoners who had been detained in Klecka were executed with several rounds of AK-47s and their bodies buried in a mass grave near the grounds of the detention center. It is alleged that Naser and Nexhmi Krasniqi, Naser Shala and two other KLA soldiers were responsible for their deaths (p. 2, 4-5, 9). The same mass grave also held the beaten (allegedly by Naser and Nexhmi Krasniqi) and deceased (allegedly at the hands of Naser Shala) body of another Serbian military prisoner (p. 3, 5-6, 7, 10).

On or about 4 April 1999, two Serbian police officers who had been detained in Klecka were executed with several gun shots fired with a pistol. It is alleged that Naser and Nexhmi Krasniqi, Fatmir Limaj and Naser Shala amongst others were responsible for their deaths (p. 3, 6, 8, 10-11).

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Specific legal rules and provisions

  • Articles 22, 142 and 144 of the Criminal Code of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
  • Article 3, common to the 1949 Geneva Conventions.
  • Articles 4 and 5(1) of Additional Protocol II to the Geneva Conventions.

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Court's holding and analysis

All Accused were acquitted of all charges (p. 12-15). The judgment does not give reasons.

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Instruments cited

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Additional materials