Kosovo authorities have arrested North Macedonian murderer Alil Demiri, 38, following a joint operation between Kosovo and North Macedonian police forces.
The arrest was based on the international arrest warrant issued by North Macedonia. There, Demiri is wanted “for the criminal act of terrorism,” according to the North Macedonian Interior Ministry.
Kosovo Police said that a North Macedonian citizen had been arrested on 23 August at around 22:30 in the city of Pristina. Based on the prosecutor’s decision, he was put in custody while waiting for his appearance before court.
It has yet to be confirmed whether or not the extradition of the alleged North Macedonian murderer will take place in the coming weeks.
In 2021, the Skopje Criminal Court found Demiri guilty of terrorism for the murders of five ethnic Macedonians in 2012. The case involved a high-profile retrial, with Demiri charged alongside Afrim Ismailovic and Agim Ismailovic.
The 2012 crime has continued to cause ethnic tensions and accusations about political meddling.
The final verdicts saw the defendants in the case given life sentences. Two other men, also ethnic Albanians, were handed down long prison sentences due to their assisting in the murders. The sixth defendant in the case was acquitted.
Of the six men charged, Demiri and Afrim Ismailovic remained at large up until this week. Both men were believed to be hiding in Kosovo.
No further information has been released about the whereabouts of Ismailovic.
The five Macedonian murder victims were killed with automatic rifles and a pistol near a small lake in Skopje over Orthodox Christian Easter in 2012. Four of the victims were men, and the fifth victim a woman.
The murders led to widespread protests by ethnic Macedonians. After several of the defendants were arrested, ethnic Albanians also protested the case and claimed the accused were scapegoats.
Following the retrial and final verdicts in 2021, the Court in Skopje found that the three individuals who had fired shots at the victims had committed acts of terrorism, with their intent being to cause ethnic tensions throughout the country.
Relations between the different ethnic groups in North Macedonia have long been fraught, not least due to a large Albanian minority living in the country.
An armed conflict briefly erupted in 2001 between ethnic Albanian insurgents and security forces. The conflict ended later that year with the signing of the Ohrid Peace Accord. The agreement granted greater rights to Albanians living in North Macedonia.
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