Extradition to Serbia

Keywords: Extradition

Press Release, FOJ, 21.03.2012

Bern. A man accused of participating in war crimes was today extradited by Switzerland to Serbia. He flew from Zurich to Belgrade this afternoon, accompanied by three Serbian police officers.

The man – a Serbian citizen according to the extradition request, but who himself claims to be Kosovar – had been in custody pending extradition since 14 April 2011. The Serbian authorities suspect him of participating in war crimes committed by the Kosovo Liberation Army against Serbian and Albanian civilians in the Gnjilane area of Eastern Kosovo in 1999. The Serbian extradition request lists several cases of murder, torture, rape and arson.

At the request of the Federal Office of Justice (FoJ), on 10 and 14 June 2011 the Serbian authorities submitted guarantees that the trial would be conducted in accordance with human rights conventions. In addition to other conditions, these guarantees state that the Swiss representation is free to visit the man in custody at any time, and that it may participate as an observer in the trial. Based on the European Convention on Extradition, on 22 July 2011 the FoJ then ordered that the man be extradited to Serbia. Since the accused claimed that he was being persecuted on political grounds, at the same time the FoJ petitioned the Federal Criminal Court to reject the man's plea that he was the victim of a political offence.

On 29 November 2011, the Federal Criminal Court denied the appeal against the FoJ's extradition decision, and the man's political offence claim (RR.2011.180+214). The Court ruled that there was no reason to believe that the criminal proceedings in Serbia were motivated by his belonging to a particular social group, race, religion or nationality. On 7 March 2012, Switzerland's Federal Supreme Court upheld the decisions of the lower courts (1C_559/2011). A subsequent request to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg to have the extradition deferred was also unsuccessful.

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