Three jailed ethnic-Albanian Kosovo police officers charged with possession of weapons and explosive devices were released in Serbia, following a court decision that still will require additional legal proceedings.
The release was seen as some as a move on the part of the Serbian government to ease tensions between Kosovo and Serbia, which have skyrocketed, following protests over controversial municipal elections in four Serb-dominated districts in North Kosovo, which saw ethnic-Albanian mayors elected despite only 3.5 percent participation in local voting.
Serbia has accused the Kosovo police officers of illegally crossing into Serbia while Kosovo stated that the officers were kidnapped by Serbs and brought across the border in a tit-for-tat move over arrests of former police officers and protesters in Kosovo.
Both the EU and US have pushed hard for the release of the officers while at the same time pressing on Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti’s government to hold new elections. Kurti did agree on paper to new elections, but he in the meantime has upped the Kosovo police presence in North Kosovo—which has resulted in more arrests. These have been sharply criticized by the EU high representative for dialogue, Josep Borrell.
While Serbia has promised continued prosecution of the aforementioned officers there are doubts that they will willingly return to Serbia. In the meantime, Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani called the arrest an act of aggression and thanked the US for forcing the release, as cited by the Voice of America website.
Kurti added in a tweet that the “abduction consists of a serious human rights violation and must be reprimanded.”
File photo of Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti during the first meeting of the government of Kosovo courtesy of the Office of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.