Kelmendi To Be Freed, Lawyer Says

Published: 05 August 2013


Balkan drug lord Naser Kelmendi will not be extradited to Bosnia to face trial, according to a statement from his lawyer issued on Monday. Kelmendi is being held in Kosovo after his arrest in May and remains wanted in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

According to Klix, Kelmendi's lawyer Besnik Berisha stated that Pristina will not honor a Bosnian warrant for Kelmendi, who is wanted for six murders, illegal money transferring, and drug trafficking. Authorities allege that he is responsible for a large cocaine and heroin operation run from Sarajevo. The Bosnian Ministry of Justice made a statement saying it has not received official word from Kosovo if he will be extradited.

Kelmendi was arrested on the basis of an Interpol warrant filed by Bosnia. He was released after 48 hours and subsequently arrested by the European Rule of Law Mission (EULEX). EULEX has no mandate to extradite a Kosovo citizen, however Kelmendi holds dual Kosovar and Bosnian citizenship.

Bosnia's lack of recognition of Kosovo's sovereignty has complicated extradition in the past. Kelmendi's son was detained in Kosovo in 2012 but was released.

Kelmendi denied the charges against him, saying they are politically motivated.  Kelmendi is a close associate of Bosnian Minister of Security Fahrudin Radoncic. He has been arrested numerous times but has rarely faced charges.  He is recognized by police throughout the region and the US Government as a one of several large regional drug kingpins trafficking heroin, cigarettes and cocaine though the region.