Kosovo’s Court of Appeal on October 1 approved the complaint of the defence of 11 men – seized in a roundup of suspected terrorist supporters – and ordered the Basic Court to review its order to keep them in detention them on remand.
One is a well-known cleric, the imam of the Grand Mosque in Pristina, Shefqet Krasniqi, who some supporters say was arrested for political reasons.
Another high-profile detainee is the head of a party, the Islamic Unite Movement, Fuad Ramiqi.
The Court of Appeal said the Basic Court had failed to prove the need to keep the men in detention on remand.
It said the original decision “violated the applicable provisions of criminal procedure… because there were no reasons concerning the decisive fact or basic condition that have to be met for someone to be kept in detention”.
Some worshippers at the Grand Mosque of Pristina, where Shefqet Krasniqi preaches, claim that his arrest had a political background to it.
|Yard of the Grand Mosque in Pristina|
Ardian Berisha, 26, said the arrests of the men were part of an attempt to conceal the fundamental nature of the political crisis in the country.
“It is a political matter. There has been no government for four months, and there is political crisis. This way, they hide the real problems in Kosovo, by arresting imams,” Berisha told BTJ.
Berisha conceded that the recruitment of Kosovars to fight in Syria had weakened the international image of Kosovo. “But Imam Krasniqi was not encouraging this recruiting, as it is being said in public,” he added.
Tefik Doberdoli, 63, said it was wrong to single out Kosovo Albanians for fighting in Syria and Iraq.
“It’s not only Kosovars going to Syria. Why there are arrests only in Kosovo?” Doberdoli asked.
He said Krasniqi had never talked about Syria or Iraq in his sermons. “For me, going to fight in Syria is meaningless. Nobody knows who’s fighting who,” Doberdoli said.
Engjell Berisha, 16, one of the many youngsters in Kosovo who have turned to religion, said he would have liked to have hear Imam Krasniqi preach on that Friday. “But, if he did something bad, then it’s upon his shoulders,” he said.
Police arrested the men, initially 40 persons, on August 14, on suspicion of membership of groups linked to Islamic State, IS, the hard-line Sunni Muslim terrorist organization fighting to create a so-called caliphate in Iraq and Syria.