March 16, 2011 / 7:40 PM / 9 years ago

Police arrest nine war crimes suspects in Kosovo

PRISTINA (Reuters) - The European Union police and justice mission (EULEX) said Wednesday it had arrested nine people on suspicion of committing war crimes during the 1998-99 war in Kosovo.

“The arrests were ordered by an EULEX pre-trial judge of the district court of Pristina based on ... suspicion of killings, torture and other offences against Kosovo Albanian and Serb civilians and prisoners of war in a detention centre in Kosovo in 1999,” the mission said in a statement.

The mission, which has some executive powers in cases such as war crimes, corruption and organised crime, said one person had been arrested in a foreign country.

Local media said all nine were ethnic Albanians and members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) which fought Serb forces during the war.

One is a local police commander from the region of Prizren, media said.

Kosovo’s former prime minister, Ramush Haradinaj, is on trial for war crimes at the U.N. tribunal in The Hague. His trial is expected to resume this year.

More than 10,000 civilians, overwhelmingly ethnic Albanians, were killed in the 1998-99 war.

Another 800,000 Albanians were forced to leave their homes in Serbia’s former province during the conflict, which prompted NATO bombing of Serbia and ended with the United Nations taking control of Kosovo in 1999.

The mission has also started investigating a Council of Europe report that accused members of the KLA of carrying out abductions, gun- and drug-running and trafficking in body parts from ethnic Serbs in the late 1990s.

Reporting by Fatos Bytyci; editing by Elizabeth Piper

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