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07PRISTINA164 2007-03-02 17:07:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Pristina
Cable title:  

KOSOVO: CASE EMERGING AGAINST ALBIN KURTI FOR

Tags:   PGOV KJUS KCRM EAID KDEM UNMIK YI 
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1. (C) SUMMARY: On February 13, following the violent
February 10 protest led by the Self-Determination Movement
(SDM), in which two people were killed and approximately 80
injured, Kosovo Police Service (KPS) detained SDM leader
Albin Kurti for 30 days based on the ruling of an
international prosecutor that there is "grounded suspicion"
that he violated four counts of the Provisional Criminal Code
of Kosovo (PCCK). Those counts mainly pertain to inciting a
crowd to violence and endangering UN personnel or property.
The international prosecutor on the case indicates that he
will seek to indict Kurti based on that ruling before the 30
days' preventive detention ends. At that time, he will
recommend pre-trial detention on the grounds that Kurti, who
has flouted house arrest orders in the past, is a flight
risk. UNMIK Department of Justice (DOJ) sources indicate the
evidence against Kurti -- including video footage of him
leading the crowd -- is strong. However, some of the crimes
on which the prosecutor is likely to indict Kurti carry only
minor sentences. Based on the current ruling, the case would
most likely go before the District Court and be heard by a
three-judge panel consisting of two internationals and one
local. Pre-trial detention would have to be reviewed
regularly, but the good news is that Kurti, who has led
violent demonstrations in the past and will probably do so in
the future, will likely remain behind bars in the months
leading up to the final resolution of Kosovo's status. END
SUMMARY.



2. (C) Following a violent February 10 demonstration led by
the Self-Determination Movement (SDM), in which two people
were killed and scores injured, Kosovo Police Service (KPS)
detained SDM leader Albin Kurti on February 13 pursuant to a
ruling filed by International Prosecutor Cecilia Tillada that
there is "grounded suspicion" that he violated four counts of
the Kosovo Provisional Criminal Code (PCCK). These are
Article 318 - Participation in a Group Obstructing Official
Persons in Performing Official Duties; Article 319 - Call to
Resistance (i.e., calling upon others to prevent by force or
threat the execution of lawful decisions); Article 320 -
Participating in a Crowd Committing a Criminal Offense; and
Article 142 - Endangering United Nations and Associated
Personnel. Kurti was given 30 days' detention pending an
actual indictment being filed. The ruling mentions the death
and injuries, but does not directly ascribe blame for those
crimes to Kurti.

Evidence is strong, but alleged crimes may result in minor
sentences



3. (C) Nevertheless, UNMIK Department of Justice (DOJ)
sources indicate that evidence against Kurti is strong for
the violation of the above-mentioned articles. He was
videotaped leading the crowd, and was photographed throwing a
stick at a UN armored vehicle, but the ruling is not clearly
written on this. Finally, the truck from which Kurti was
speaking was confiscated and contained "solid objects" that
the crowd had been throwing, as well approximately 150
bottles of paint evidently meant to be thrown at UN buildings.



4. (C) On February 26, due to a heavy workload, Tillada was
replaced on the Kurti case by new international prosecutor,
Andrew Mayes. Mayes (protect) indicated to us that he will
likely indict Kurti before the 30 days' preventive detention
expires. When he files the indictment, Kurti's detention
will be revisited, and Mayes told us he will seek to keep
Kurti in jail pending trial based on the grounds that he is a
flight risk, since he has not respected house arrest for past
violations.



5. (C) While the evidence is reportedly strong, some of
Kurti's alleged crimes could result in minor sentences.
Article 318 proscribes an unspecified fine or up to three
years in prison; if the judge finds that the perpetrator led
a group committing the offense, the sentence is one to five

PRISTINA 00000164 002 OF 002


years. Article 319 carries a prison term of three years or
less. Article 320 proscribes three months to five years
imprisonment, or one to ten years if the perpetrator is
proven to have led a group committing the crime. Article 142
prescribes at least seven years for killing UN or associated
personnel (of which Kurti will not be charged); one to ten
years for attacking UN or associated personnel; one to ten
years for attacking UN offices, employee residences or
vehicles; and one to five years for making a serious threat
to commit one of the aforementioned offenses.



6. (C) On which article(s) of the criminal code Kurti is
actually indicted will determine whether his trial ends up in
a District Court before a three-judge panel consisting of two
internationals and one local, or iQa Municipal Court before
a local judge. If anything in the indictment carries a
prison sentence of over three years, the case will go to the
District Court, and pre-trial detention will have to be
reviewed regularly. Based on the current ruling, we believe
the eventual indictment will land the case in the District
Court.



7. (C) COMMENT: The strong evidence against Kurti and the
possibility of his continued detention pending trial are good
news for Kosovo. The events of February 10 -- in which two
lives were lost as a result of SDM's violent tactics and
desire for confrontation -- proves that Kurti is not only a
flight risk for prosecutors, but a danger to public safety in
Kosovo. In or out of jail, the Kurti legend is likely to
grow. We support the prosecution of Kurti and -- given that
he has routinely flouted previous house arrest orders and
rejected the jurisdiction of the UN court system -- agree
that his continued detention is more than warranted. On the
eve of renewed protests, it is also in the interests of
public safety that he remain in detention. END COMMENT.



8. (SBU) U.S. Office Pristina does not clear this cable for
release to U.N. Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari.
KAIDANOW