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Man arrested over Kosovo war crimes

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10:39 CEST+02:00
A man has been arrested in western Sweden on suspicion of aggravated war crimes, with an alternative charge of murder, in connection with the Kosovo war in 1999.

The man, who is in his thirties, was arrested in a joint operation by the Swedish National Criminal Investigation Department (Rikskriminalen) war crimes unit and the international prosecutor in Stockholm, for crimes in the village of Cuska in Kosovo in May 1999.

The police have until April 9th to submit a remand request to the Stockholm District Court.

Tomas Ackheim at the war crimes unit confirmed the man's arrest but was unable to divulge any further details.

"I can say only that the arrest was conducted in a calm and orderly fashion," he told news agency TT.

The village of Cuska near Pec in Kosovo in the Former Yugoslavia was the scene of a mass killing of 44 Kosovo Albanians committed by Serbian forces on May 14th 1999.

The motive for the massacre remains unclear but reports indicate that Agim Çeku, a Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) commander, was a native of this village and his father remained a resident.

On March 13th 2010 the Serbian war crimes prosecution office arrested nine members of the so-called Šakal (The Jackals) unit on suspicion of involvement in the killings.

During the Kosovo war in 1998-1999 Serbia launched a full scale assault on the country's Kosovo Albanian minority to quell a rebellion. Around 10,000 civilians are reported to have perished and a further million were forced to flee their homes during the Serbian offensive in the province.

In 1999 NATO forces bombed Serbian cities for eleven weeks in order to force an end to the operation against the Kosovo Albanians.

The National Criminal Investigation Department has recently confirmed that it is investigating around a dozen cases of suspected war crimes, most of them serious. There are several more that have not yet reached the investigation stage.

The Swedish Migration Board receives around 30 reports per year of suspected war criminals in Sweden. Over the past 10-15 years around 50 people have been denied refugee status due to suspicions of serious crimes or war crimes. Many are however granted residency and are not deported in cases where there is a risk of persecution, torture or the death penalty in their home countries.

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