Ex-judge: EU law mission in Kosovo holds anti-Albanian bias

International

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — A former British judge on Monday accused the European Union’s legal watchdog in Kosovo of political meddling in many trials aimed at subverting Kosovar Albanians.

Malcolm Simmons made the accusation against the EU’s Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo, or EULEX, during a digital call with Kosovar lawmakers.

Simmons resigned from EULEX four years ago and has since accused the organization of “trying to bring down part of the Kosovar political class.”

A statement from the Kosovo Parliament said that Simmons “claimed political intervention in many trials,” and that he would release more details only if the lawmakers launched an investigation.

Five former Kosovar war commanders, including a former president and parliamentary speakers are on trial at The Hague for crimes related to a 1998-1999 war that Kosovar’s waged for their independence from Serbia.

But according to the statement, Simmons had accused EULEX of having no interest in investigating war crimes against Kosovo’s Albanian population that were committed by Serbs. Simmons also claimed that the files of the Serbs suspected of committed the war crimes have been sent to Serbia.

EULEX rejected the accusations, insisting that it has never handed any war crime cases to Serbian prosecutors “nor did it give up authority over investigative files and cases” and challenged Simmons to provide proof.

“Malcolm Simmons’s statement in the Assembly today is a collection of ill-conceived and unsubstantiated conjectures, untruths and personal opinions,” the EULEX said in a statement emailed to the Associated Press. It also called Simmons’ remarks a “deliberate disinformation campaign” aimed at discrediting the mission.

Simmons was a judge with the mission since 2008 and its chief judge since 2014 until he resigned in 2017.

EULEX said Simmons’ accusations were a reflection of his “dissatisfaction” with the outcome of three investigations EU authorities in Brussels conducted against him that were forwarded to U.K. authorities for further action.

Simmons failed to cooperate with the investigation team and didn’t provide evidence to support his claims, said EULEX. A U.K. court had also dismissed his claim.

In 2017 Simmons told France’s Le Monde newspaper that he resigned because neither Britain nor the EU supported calls to investigate corruption in the Kosovo program.

The 1998-1999 war left more than 10,000 people dead — most of them ethnic Albanians from Kosovo, and more than 1,600 people remain unaccounted for. The fighting ended after a 78-day NATO air campaign against Serbian troops.

Kosovo, which is dominated by ethnic Albanians, declared independence from Serbia in 2008, a move recognized by many Western nations but not Serbia or its allies Russia and China.

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Follow Llazar Semini at https://twitter.com/lsemini

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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