12 prill 2023
Conspirative claims from Serbian officials about the shooting in Shtërpcë
On account of the verdict of the Basic Court of Ferizaj regarding the measure imposed on the FSK member, Azem Kurtaj, who in January injured two young Serbs in Shtërpcë, some Serbian media and politicians have given the case political and ethnic connotations.
The case happened in the village of Gotovushë in the Municipality of Shtërpcë on January 6, 2023, where the Kosovo Police arrested the 32-year-old suspect Azem Kurtaj, who was not on official duty at the time of the attack. Since then he was being held in custody.
In the last trial session held on March 16th, the media was not allowed to record because of the presence of one of the injured, who is a minor. However, for the case in question, the prosecutor Ajvazi has said that Kurtaj's act resulted in minor bodily injuries and temporary health consequences. According to him, "in this case, Kurtaj has committed the criminal offense of "causing general danger", from article 356 paragraph 1 of the KPRK". Ajvazi further added that the prosecutor has completed the investigations and submitted an indictment to the court, "we leave it to the court to evaluate the circumstances, in order to decide on the continuation or termination of detention." On March 16, the Court decided to replace Kurtaj's detention with house arrest.
Although this case is an isolated case and has nothing to do with systematic efforts of the institutions in Kosovo against Serbs, this decision provoked a reaction from Serbian politicians, calling it a political plan of the judicial institutions and the government to possibly deport the Serbs. According to the Serbian List, the qualification of the case as "the cause of the general disaster" is an example of systematic and planned institutional violence by the anti-Serb regime of Albin Kurti, with the aim of intimidating and expelling Serbs from their homes. The mayor of Shtërpcë, Dalibor Jevtić, also said that "while the Serbs are arrested and punished without evidence, the attempts to kill Serbs qualifies as 'causing general danger'".
The statements of Serbian politicians have been widely broadcasted by the Novasti, Kurir, Dnevnik media, which are considered close with the Serbian Government. Belegrade has continuously created similar narratives giving political and ethnic context to incidents in Serbian localities, even when investigative bodies have denied this. These declarations, not based on facts and prior confirmations, have a negative impact by disrupting public opinion.
Moreover, "Novosti" also implicated the accused's family, calling them terrorists for the fact that they were part of the KLA. But according to Albanian media reports, Kurtaj is the son of the martyr, Danush Kurtaj, killed on May 22, 1999. He was one of the many victims of the Serbian forces during the massacre in Dubrava prison.
Kujtim Kirveshi - the lawyer of the accused Kurtaj - reacted to the media articles and unfounded claims of Serbian politicians. He described the statements of Serbian officials as attempts to interfere in the judicial process, giving the case a political and ethnic connotation.
“Such a political action, we believe, only aims political points among those who trust such a representative", said Kirveshi, referring to Jevtiqi's statement. He warned that all those who prejudice and give an ethnic context to the case, for which the court has not yet given a final decision, will face justice.
The case that happened only a few days after the removal of the barricades from the north of Kosovo provoked many reactions even among the international community in Kosovo. Among other things, they requested that the justice bodies clarify all the circumstances, in which case they congratulated the immediate reaction and the arrest of the suspect.
Meanwhile, Serbian media and politicians, who paid great attention to the case, did not provide any facts that support the connection between the decision of the justice bodies and the alleged political plan against the Serbs. The distribution of such conspiracy theories, wrapped in elements of an alleged conspiracy, is aimed at inciting the mistrust of the Serbs towards the institutions of Kosovo, which Serbia does not yet recognize.
*This article is published as part of the Western Balkans Regional Initiative against disinformation.
12 prill 2023