Kosovo: 6 arrested, President Thaci's uncle escapes

Six persons have been arrested in Kosovo on suspicion of links to organized crime and activities that damaged the Kosovo budget and Serb families from Kosovo.

Source: Beta, Tanjug

The operation was carried out on Wednesday by the police of the EU mission in Kosovo, EULEX, and the Kosovo police. Some 350 police officers searched 42 locations, in connection with 40 suspects in an ongoing criminal investigation.

The Kosovo Special Prosecution said that the six persons detained today will be brought before the Basic Court in Pristina.

The criminal group under investigation has been active since 2006 and is composed of citizens "of Kosovo and Serbia," said the Kosovo Prosecution, adding that the leader of the group is Azem Sula.

The damage they incurred to "Kosovo's social property" reaches EUR 30 million, a statement added, noting that the criminal activities included falsifying official documents and bribing public servants.

Beside the Kosovo budget, other damaged parties are Serb families from Kosovo whose right to land plots was "abused" by the criminal group.

"A significant portion" of the plots in question was temporarily seized by the Pristina Basic Court on April 26, "with the goal of being returned to the legal public ownership, in the first instance."

The arrests today come on suspicion of organized crime, money laundering, abuse of official position, falsifying of official documents, and giving and receiving bribes.

The statement added that several suspects are "citizens of Serbia who reside in Serbia," and that cooperation had been achieved in the case with the Belgrade-based Organized Crime Prosecution.

It added that "arrest warrants for certain suspects have not been executed, since they are either on the run or are located abroad."

Azem Sula, named as the group's leader, is the uncle of Kosovo President Hashim Thaci and a Kosovo assembly member from Thaci's party. He is currently a fugitive.

The kallxo.com website is reporting today that homes belonging to deputies from Thaci's PDK party were searched, and that authorities are looking for Sula.

The insajderi.com website is reporting that Sula has left Kosovo, while some media said he was in Durres, Albania.

According to another Pristina-based website, indeksonline.com, Sula is accused of participation in organized crime, money laundering, and abuse of office.

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