Thousands protest at Kosovo separatist veterans' arrest

Reuters/Hazir Reka

Thousands of people protested against the arrest of nine former Kosovo separatist fighters by European Union police in Pristina on Tuesday. The former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) rebels were detained by the EU rule of law mission (Eulex).


The protest was organised by several organisations of veterans of the 1999 war and joined by an umbrella grouping of NGOs as well as students to "defend the honour of the KLA during the war".

The protesters marched carrying signs saying "Free the Freedom Fighters" and "Eulex go away".

Eulex police two weeks ago arrested the nine on suspicion of killing and torturing ethnic Albanians and Serbs during the war that pitted KLA guerrillas against Serb security forces loyal to then Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic.

The war ended after a Nato air campaign ousted Serbian forces from Kosovo, which declared independence in 2008. Despite Serbia's opposition it is recognised by 75 countries, including the United States and a majority of EU countries.

Eulex, the EU's largest civilian mission, was launched in December 2008 to oversee the rule of law in Kosovo.

It has the power to take on cases that the local judiciary and police are unable to handle because of their sensitive nature.

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