Updated: 20-Feb-2003 NATO Press Releases


17 Feb. 2003

KFOR’s Detention of Indicted War Criminals
Haradin Bala (aka Shala), Isak Musliu (aka Qerqiz)
and Agim Murtezi (aka Murrizi)

KFOR has detained Haradin Bala (aka Shala), Isak Musliu (aka Qerqiz) and Agim Murtezi (aka Murrizi), who are under indictment for war crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). They were detained in Kosovo and will be transferred to The Hague. There were no casualties sustained in the course of these operations.

These were the first such operations conducted by KFOR following the ICTY’s first-ever indictments of individuals residing in Kosovo. Following this action, NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson said, “I am deeply grateful to the KFOR soldiers and their commanders for their courage, professionalism and dedication in carrying out this operation. Today’s action represents a significant new step in NATO’s drive to detain war crime indictees throughout the region. This should also send a message that we will act against any person indicted for war crimes, regardless of their ethnicity. Each fugitive sent to The Hague makes it easier to build a lasting peace in the Balkans.”

Bala, Murtezi and Musliu are under indictment for war crimes committed from about May until about July 1998 while serving as members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). They were commanders/guards at the Lapušnik/Llapushnik Prison Camp located in Glogovac/Gllogoc. During this period, they committed, or otherwise aided and abetted the execution of, the crimes of imprisonment and cruel treatment of both Serb and Albanian civilians.

Secretary General Lord Robertson added, “KFOR’s detentions today serve as a warning. There is no place to hide for anyone accused by the Tribunal of these horrific crimes. I call on all remaining fugitives in the region, in particular Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, to surrender to the Tribunal. Let me be crystal clear to those with guilty consciences. You have only two choices: turn yourself in with dignity or justice will be brought to you. The net is closing.”

These detentions were undertaken in accordance with KFOR’s mandate and in consultation with the Senior Representative of the United Nations Secretary General for Kosovo. SACEUR, as overall commander for KFOR, has kept the Secretary General fully informed of this action. KFOR will continue to do its part by carrying out its mission in a firm and even-handed manner.

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