From: Exit Staff
Kosovo President Reduced Sentence of Murder Convict Testifying in Case of Opposition Activist’s Death in Custody

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci has reduced the sentence of a murder convict who testified in the case of the death in custody of Astrit Dehari, an opposition Vetevendosje activist. Since Dehari’s death in 2016, his family and Vetevendosje have called for an independent investigation after authorities declared his death a suicide.

In early August this year, Thaci reduced 3.5 years from Luz Allaku’s 15 year prison time for murdering a 13 year old boy and his uncle. 

Credible sources told KOHA that Allaku is a witness in the investigation into the death of Dehari, the newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The Vetevendosje activist and five others were detained on suspicion of “terrorist acts” for having allegedly attacked the parliament building with an RPG. In 2018, the appeals court freed all activists and ordered a retrial.

On November 5, 2016,  Dehari, 26, was found dead in his cell while in custody, 68 days after his detention in Prizren. Authorities declared his death self-inflicted asphyxiation using a bottle.

The University Center of Legal Medicine, Lausanne, Switzerland, found that suicide was not highly probable and that another person’s intervention resulting Dehari’s death should be taken into account. Kosovo authorities kept the report hidden and falsified its date.

The family lawyer maintains that Astrit was murdered due to his political convictions, and authorities tried to cover the traces.

The convict, Luz Allaku, whose sentence President Thaci reduced, was one of the first persons to find the dead body of Astrit Dehari in his cell. KOHA’s report shows that Allaku has given two different accounts in 2016 and 2020 to police regarding circumstances.

In 2016, Allaku described the body, the cell and the area around the body, said he called the nurse, and helped take the body to the detention center’s medical facility.

In his 2020 testimony, however, he didn’t mention calling the nurse, but only that “the nurse arrived”. He also didn’t remember whether the nurse gave any medical assistance to Astrit. Allaku said he stayed outside the cell and entered only to help transport the body. He added that he was sure Astrit had committed suicide.

The largest Kosovo party, Vetevendosje has demanded President Thaci to release the full file on Allaku’s sentence reduction: his request, the report by state authorities, and the president’s reasoning for his decision.