KOSOVO: PREMIERíS AID DETAINED FOR SUSPECTED MONEY LAUNDERING

Published on March 14, 2007, adnkronos international

Category: Organized Crime in Kosovo

Pristina, 13 March (AKI) - Kosovo and international police have arrested two people, including Jahja Luka, political adviser to prime minister Agim Ceku, on suspicion of money laundering, local media reported on Tuesday. Luka and Pristina Kasa Bank director Milaz Abazi are under house arrest for 30 days while the case is investigated, according to media reports.

Luka, administrator of a special fund for the defence of former premier Ramus Haradinaj, accused for war crimes against civilians by the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), was arrested on Monday together with Abazi. The money was channelled to the Haradinaj fund through the Pristina Kasa Bank, investigators allege.

Ceku said in a statement that Luka was arrested on suspicion of financial abuses relating to the operation of the Haradinaj fund, not to his role as prime ministerís adviser. Ceku said he would decide on Lukaís political future in the coming days, depending on the findings of the probe.

Haradinaj, the leader of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, was a regional commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) which began a rebellion against Serbian rule in 1999. He was indicted by the ICTY in 2005 for killing scores of Serbs and "non-loyal" ethnic Albanian civilians during military operations in western Kosovo in 1998 and 1999.

Haradinaj resigned as prime minister after the indictment and turned himself in to the Hague Tribunal, but was released pending trial. He returned to the Hague on 26 February and the trial began on 3 March.

Ten million euros have so far been collected for Haradinajís defence from individuals, companies and various organisations, of which 7.5 million euros have already been spent, according to investigators. Haradinajís lawyers have stated at least another 1.5 million euros are needed for his defence.


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