Kosovo: Ex-KLA Commander Indicted on Organized Crime Charges

An ex-commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and former member of the country’s parliament was indicted Tuesday for allegedly leading an organized crime group that illegally obtained properties worth about €30 million (US$ 32.8 million).

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Azem Syla, who resigned from parliament after he was arrested on April 29, was indicted along with 38 others on charges including money laundering, accepting bribes, fraud and tax evasion, according to a press release from the State Prosecutor.

Police allege the group, which is believed to have started in 2006, acquired publicly owned properties by falsifying documents and paying off public officials using state funds.

A 2010 report by the European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs and Human rights named Syla as a “key player” in organized crime who silenced potential witnesses with violence, threats and blackmail.

Syla was a member of parliament for the Democratic Party of Kosovo, which has ruled the country in a coalition with the Democratic League of Kosovo since 2014.