07:21 GMT +313 November 2019
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    A Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) honor guard stands at attention at the funeral in southwestern Kosovo near Pec and Djakovica for five of 24 Kosovars slain in an ambush in Rogovo last week by Serbian Interior Ministry forces.

    Was Albanian Ex-President Sending Arms to Kosovo Liberation Army Terrorists?

    © AFP 2019 / JOEL ROBINE
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    If Sali Ram Berisha really did that, it could put him in the dock, Macedonian news agency MIA reported. Sali Ram Berisha earlier admitted that he was sending arms to the separatist Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) which fought Yugoslavian military and police units during the 1990s.

    During the 1990s the KLA was widely considered as a terrorist organization, including by the US State Department.

    Experts believe that, in theory, the Hague-based Special Tribunal dealing with war crimes committed by former Kosovo Liberation Army members, could open a criminal case against Berisha.

    In an interview with Sputnik, Serbian lawyer Borivoje Borovic said that Sali Ram Berisha could be prosecuted as an accessory to terrorism, and that a parallel probe could be opened in the United States based on a pertinent lawsuit filed by members of the local Serbian community.

    In 1997, when Berisha was president, hundreds of thousands of firearms, millions of rounds of ammunition, a great number of mortars and tons of explosives were allegedly stolen from Albanian arsenals.

    “And now Sali Ram Berisha says that was not a break-in and that he had simply decided to ‘throw the doors open’ to arm KLA fighters,” Borivoje Borovic told Sputnik Serbia.

    “I opened the military depots to provide arms to the KLA,” Berisha said in a nationally televised interview.

    “Incidentally, it was exactly when the KLA members launched their first major assault on Yugoslav army and police units in Kosovо,” Borovic added.

    Stevan Djurovic, the chief of Serbian counterintelligence in Kosovo during the 1999 NATO aggression against Yugoslavia, said that most of the KLA training camps were located on the territory of neighboring Albania.

    He added that Berisha organized financing for the 15 KLA training centers in Albania and the transfer of terrorists to Kosovo.

    “Can we bring Berisha to justice? Serbia and other countries can. The problem is, however, that there were French, German, US and Swiss instructors working at those training camps. Some of the terrorists traveled to Arab countries to hone their skills, that’s why I don’t expect any international reaction to what Berisha said,” Stevan Djurovic noted.

    The Kosovo Liberation Army was mostly financed through a combination of arms and drug trafficking and money from ethnic Albanians living in the United States, Switzerland, Germany and Austria. Between 1995 and 1998, KLA terrorists killed hundreds of Serbian police officers and civilians and wounded more than 600.

    The KLA was taken off the US list of terrorist organizations in 1998 when US Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke appeared in a video engaged in a friendly chat with a group of armed KLA members.

    The Kosovo War between the ethnically Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army and Yugoslavia, then consisting of Serbia and Montenegro, flared up in 1999.

    The conflict led to the NATO bombing of Serb forces.

    Following NATO’s 78-day air campaign the Kosovo Force (KFOR) was established to support peace in the area, demilitarize the Kosovo Liberation Army, support the international humanitarian effort and coordinate with the international civil presence.

    Kosovo unilaterally proclaimed independence in 2008 and is recognized by over 100 UN member states. Serbia, as well as Russia, China, Israel, Iran, Spain, Greece and some other countries do not recognize Kosovo’s independence.

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