Rrustem Mustafa, who was sentenced to prison in 2013 for crimes committed during the war, has been employed by the Kosovo President Hashim Thaci since February, the Prishtina Insight reported on Thursday. This is not the first time that a convicted war criminal was employed by the top Kosovo state officials. The Kosovo Prime Minister, Ramush Haradinaj also appointed a known convict, Sylejman Selimi, as his adviser. Selimi’s case, however, was known to the public and he was dismissed following strong reactions of CSOs and the US Embassy.
The publication of the Kosovo Anti-Corruption Agency’s report on the declaration of wealth of public servants on Thursday revealed that Rrustem Mustafa, popularly known as ‘Remi,’ has been appointed as an advisor to Kosovo President Hashim Thaci for the last four months, a fact unknown to the public until now, the Prishtina Insight writes.
Simultaneously with the appointment of Mustafa in the Kosovo President’s cabinet, another convicted war criminal was appointed as an adviser in the Kosovo Prime Minister’s Cabinet – Sylejman Selimi.
Unlike Mustafa’s, Selimi’s appointment was known to the public. Their cases also differ in the fact that Thaci’s advisor, Mustafa, served his sentence, while Haradinaj’s former adviser is currently on conditional release.
Selimi’s appointment was condemned by Humanitarian Law Center Kosovo and both Prishtina and Belgrade branches of the Youth Initiative for Human Rights, as well as the US Ambassador to Kosovo, Philip Kosnett.
Four months later, however, Haradinaj dismissed Selimi “at his request.”
Selimi himself said that his „wish was to no longer deal with any political activity“, but also that he was offered the post of the ambassador to Tirana.
The report reads that besides being an advisor to the president, Mustafa is also a member of the chairmanship of the Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK.
When BIRN contacted Mustafa to confirm that he has been working as an advisor to the president, he replied “What kind of question is this?” before ending the phone call.
In 2013 Mustafa, the former Llapi Operational Zone Commander, was found guilty and imprisoned for four years for war crimes of illegal detention and abuse of Albanians during the Kosovo war – a conviction that was then confirmed by the Kosovo Court of Appeals in November 2015. Mustafa was a PDK deputy in the Kosovo Assembly at the time.
Mustafa was decorated by the president for his services to Kosovo in February 2018. Thaci awarded Mustafa with the Jubilary Presidential Medal, celebrating his “esteemed contribution towards freedom and independence.”
In addition, Mustafa received a call for a hearing from the Special Court in early December of last year. He said in January that he was questioned in the Hague in the capacity of a „suspect witness“.
Mustafa’s annual salary as an advisor to the president, according to the Anti-Corruption Agency report, reaches 18,000 euros, which is 13,800 euros more than Kosovo’s national average salary.
Neither Thaci nor Mustafa have provided details as to the nature of Mustafa’s employment in the Office of the President, the Prishtina Insight reported.
In the report of the German federal intelligence service, published in December 2008 by Wikileaks, Rustem Mustafa was indicated as the person who controlled the region of Lab and as one of the most influential KLA commanders. „Mustafa works closely with Haradinaj in drug smuggling. The Suma clan works for Mustafa,“ the report added.
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