The following media round up on international, legal and foreign policy issues from around the Balkans for the period from 17 September to 23 September 2021. The Guernica Group will provide bi-weekly media updates with a focus Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia . Should you wish to contribute or submit a media summary, opinion piece or blog, please send to Ned Vucijak at firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration.
Bosnia and Herzegovina – 17 September 2021
Radoslav Brdjanin was returned to the UN Detention Unit in the Netherlands because although he was legally eligible for early release, where he was serving a 30-year sentence for crimes against humanity committed during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Hague-based war crimes court has not yet decided whether to free him.
Kosovo – 20 September 2021
The first witness at the trial of former Kosovo Liberation Army unit commander Salih Mustafa before the Kosovo Specialist Chambers, who is accused of illegally detaining and torturing prisoners in 1999, testified that he was beaten until he lost consciousness.
Kosovo – 20 September 2021
Protesters have blocked roads in northern Kosovo after authorities stopped cars with Serbian plates from entering the country. Serbia, which lost control of Kosovo in 1999, does not recognise Kosovo and has stopped cars with Kosovo license plates from entering the country. Serbs who live in the north of Kosovo and share a border with Serbia, refuse to recognise Pristina's authorities and as restrictions came into force, cars and trucks blocked roads in protest. Kosovo's Prime Minister, Albin Kurti, said the move was not taken to harm drivers but was a retaliation measure against Belgrade.
Bosnia and Herzegovina – 21 September 2021
On 21 September, the prosecution urged the Bosnian state court in Sarajevo to increase the sentence handed down to Sakib Mahmuljin from ten to twenty years for failing to prevent murders and inhumane acts by members of the Bosnian Army’s El Mujahideen unit. Meanwhile, the defence appealed for the original verdict to be overturned and for Mahmuljin to be acquitted or retried.
Montenegro – 22 September 2021
The MPs from the Montenegrin parliament voted to push forward an initiative to demand that the Constitutional Court should rule on whether President Milo Djukanovic violated his constitutional responsibilities by backing protests earlier this month against the inauguration of the Serbian Orthodox Church’s Metropolitan Joanikije.
Albania – 22 September 2021
The Albanian Special Appeals Court Against Corruption and Organised Crime upheld the verdict sentencing Adriatik Llalla, former General Prosecutor, to two years in prison and ordered his assets to be seized. Llalla was found guilty of making a false declaration about some of his wealth that was estimated at about one million euros.
Montenegro – 23 September 2021
The European Court of Human Rights ruled that the Montenegrin Constitutional Court’s proceedings in the case against terrorism defendant Anton Sinistaj took too long, and awarded him 1,950 euros in damages. “The court finds that a period exceeding four years and three months to decide on a case such as an applicant’s, and in particular in view of what was at stake for him, was excessive and failed to meet the ‘reasonable time’ requirement,” the Strasbourg-based rights court’s ruling said.
Croatia – 23 September 2021
Croatian lawyer Vanja Juric has spoken out about the Municipal Civil Court ban, which imposes a temporary measure banning the Association of Independent Media Culture, the publisher of the H-alter portal, from publishing articles about the Child and Youth Protection Clinic of the City of Zagreb and its director Gordana Buljan Flander. Vanja Juric said that “it’s one of the most severe attacks on media freedoms we've seen.”