Kosovo jails ethnic Serb for killings during 1998-99 war

PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — A Kosovo court on Thursday jailed a former Serb army police reserve officer for 12 years after convicting him of atrocities during the country’s 1998-1999 war.

The Pristina court ruled that in March and April 1999 Zoran Djokic “together with an organized criminal group of Serbs wearing military, paramilitary and police uniforms” killed 33 Albanians.

The killings took place in Peja, a city 85 kilometers (50 miles) west of the capital, Pristina.

The court found that the group had entered Albanians’ homes and forced them to flee, killing 33 and maltreating others physically and psychologically.

Judge Arben Hoti rejected the alibi presented by the defendant, who denied the charges.

Djokic was charged in 2019. He had previously been living in Belgrade, according to prosecutors, but it was unclear when and how he was arrested.

Kosovo was a Serb province until the 1998-1999 insurrection by ethnic Albanian rebels sparked a bloody Serbian crackdown. That pushed NATO to carry out a 78-day bombing campaign to force Serbian troops out of Kosovo.

The war left more than 10,000 people dead, and 1,641 are still missing.

Kosovo declared independence in 2008 but Serbia has not recognized it.

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