Bulgaria Defends Release of former Kosovo PM

Bulgaria has defended its decision to release former Kosovo prime minister Agim Ceku, wanted for alleged war crimes in Serbia.

“I guarantee that Bulgarian justice institutions acted in accordance with the domestic and international laws,” Bulgaria’s deputy prosecutor, Galina Toneva, told media in reference to the release last week of Ceku from custody.

Toneva indicated that Serbia did not submit enough evidence to justify the further detention of Ceku or his extraditoin to Serbia, reports said. 

Bulgarian police arrested Ceku, who is wanted by Serbia for war crimes charges, on the Bulgarian-Macedonian border last Tuesday, following an Interpol red notice.

As a former commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, Ceku is accused by Serbia of command responsibility for the deaths of 669 Serbs and 18 other non-Albanians. A court in Serbia has sentenced him to 20 years in prison in absentia.

Gezim Kasapolli, spokesman for Ceku’s Social Democratic Party of Kosovo, told Balkan Insight last week that the Serbian charges against Ceku were an “attempt to discredit him and to create destabilisation in Kosovo”.

Serbian President Boris Tadic on Friday demanded an explanation from Bulgaria for Ceku’s release. Tadic said the way Bulgarian authorities handled the case “does not contribute to good relations”. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic described Ceku’s release as a “great disappointment” and “a devastating blow” to international law.

In Sofia, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Ivalio Kalfin defended the authorities’ decision, saying the ruling was based on existing judicial arguments. “This is a court matter and I would not like it to be turned into a political one,” he told reporters.

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