The European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) denied they have handed over war crimes files to the Serbian prosecution authorities, in response to claims made by its former head of judges, Malcolm Simmons.
“EULEX has never handed over any war crimes case to the Serbian prosecution authorities, nor did it give up authority over investigative files and cases,” a statement issued by EULEX on Tuesday reads.
Exit News reported on Simmons’ claims on Tuesday, who said that “dozens” of war crimes files were handed over to Serbian prosecution authorities, also adding that he was aware of “discussion within the mission regarding the transfer of files to prosecution authorities in Serbia.”
Despite several requests, Exit News did not receive any comment from EULEX on the issue. However, in their public statement, released after the allegations were published on Exit News, EULEX states that, because Kosovo law does not allow trial in absentia, the mission was unable to prosecute certain individuals.
“In their effort to ensure accountability for war crimes allegedly committed by individuals who were believed to be outside Kosovo, EULEX prosecutors occasionally shared information on these individuals with prosecution services of other jurisdictions, including but not limited to the prosecution authorities of Serbia.”
EULEX also mentions that “in line with the Kosovo law,” its prosecutors exchanged information with and rendered assistance to the Serbian authorities, in the presence of Kosovo prosecutors, on several war crimes cases, until June 2014.
According to them, this practice was gradually discontinued between 2014 and 2018, as the Mission’s mandate changed.
“Under all circumstances, the cooperation with the Serbian authorities, which has led to a first-instance judgement pronouncing nine defendants guilty of the commission of the criminal offence of a war crime against the civilian population, was based on relevant provisions in the applicable Kosovo criminal procedure code as well as legislation on international legal cooperation in criminal matters,” EULEX says.
The mission insists that all original war crimes files remained in the possession of EULEX, and these were subsequently handed over to the Kosovo authorities after the end of EULEX’s executive mandate.
They specify that by December 2018, EULEX handed over to the Kosovo authorities 495 organized crime police case files, 434 war crime police case files, missing persons’ case files, judicial case files handled only by EULEX, and more than 1,400 prosecutorial case files.
“The prosecutorial case files consisted of ongoing cases, cases which were dismissed or terminated, and cases which were completed and archived by EULEX. Most of these case files are related to war crimes, organized crime, corruption and other serious crimes,” EULEX’s statement concludes.