Alil Demiri, 38, an ethnic Albanian citizen of North Macedonia, has been arrested in Kosovo thanks to cooperation between the police forces of Kosovo and North Macedonia, North Macedonia’s Interior Ministry said on Thursday.
The arrest was based on an international arrest warrant issued by North Macedonia, where Demiri is wanted “for the criminal act of terrorism”, the Interior Ministry in Skopje said.
Kosovo Police confirmed that a North Macedonian citizen was arrested on August 23 at around 22:30 in Pristina and, on the prosecutor’s decision, was put in custody awaiting his appearance before a court.
It is not yet known whether his extradition to North Macedonia could take place soon.
in 2021, the Skopje Criminal Court, in a high-profile retrial, found Demiri, Afrim Ismailovic and Agim Ismailovic guilty of terrorism for the murders of five ethnic Macedonians in 2012.
The grisly crime shook the country and has continued to cause ethnic tensions and speculation about political meddling.
They were given life sentences in jail in final verdicts. Two others, also ethnic Albanians, were given long prison sentences for assisting the murders. The sixth defendant was acquitted.
Of those six, two, Demiri and Afrim Ismailovic remained at large, believed to be hiding in Kosovo.
There is no word yet about the whereabouts of Afrim Ismailovic.
The five Macedonian victims, four of whom were young men, were killed with automatic rifles and a pistol near a small lake in the vicinity of Skopje at Orthodox Christian Easter in 2012.
The murder sparked protests by ethnic Macedonians and subsequently, after some of the defendants were arrested, by ethnic Albanians, who claimed the accused were only scapegoats.
After the retrial that ended with the final verdicts in 2021, the Court in Skopje found that the three people who had actually fired shots at the victims had committed acts of terrorism and that their intent had been to cause ethnic tension in the country.
Inter-ethnic cohesion in North Macedonia, home to a large Albanian minority, has at times been fragile.
In 2001 a short-lived armed conflict erupted between ethnic Albanian insurgents and the security forces. The conflict ended later the same year with the signing of the Ohrid Peace Accord, which granted greater rights to the country’s Albanians.
Source : Balkans Insight