|Sabit Geci during the ‘Drenica Group’ trial. Photo: BIRN.|
The appeals court in Pristina has granted Geci a three-month release from prison in order to receive medical treatment abroad, overruling a previous house arrest order given by an EU rule-of-law mission in Kosovo, EULEX judge, his lawyer told BIRN on Tuesday.
Geci was convicted of war crimes for murdering a civilian at the Skenderaj/Srbica medical centre during the Kosovo conflict in June 1999 and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
His lawyer Haxhi Millaku said that the decision to temporarily free him was made on Friday and that Geci has since been released without any restraining measures.
“We will inform the justice bodies constantly in writing about his treatment, the schedule and the duration of the treatment,” said Millaku.
Geci, who requires surgery, had previously gone to a Tirana hospital when he was initially granted temporary release but returned to Kosovo after the house arrest order.
The EULEX judge wanted house arrest for Geci because there was a risk that he might not attend appeals hearings in the so-called ‘Drenica Group’ war crimes trial.
Geci was found not guilty in that trial but the case is now going to appeal.
In the Drenica Group trial, two former senior members of the KLA, Sami Lushtaku and Sylejman Selimi, were convicted of crimes against civilians during the 1998-99 conflict.
Several lower-ranking KLA ex-fighters were also convicted, but Geci was acquitted.
The KLA’s wartime Drenica Group was the source of many of Kosovo’s political leaders after the war, including former Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, who is now foreign minister.