Kosovo: Kelmendi to be Held for One Month
Alleged crime boss Nasser Kelmendi will be kept in custody for one month, a European Union Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) judge ruled on Thursday, Klix.ba reported. Kelmendi is wanted for questioning in Bosnia and Herzegovina for crimes including drug smuggling and murder.
Kelmendi was first arrested by Kosovo police Sunday evening after they responded to an Interpol arrest warrant issued by BiH.
Kelmendi was released by Kosovo police after 48 hours due to the lack of a Bosnian-Kosovar extradition agreement, but was quickly re-arrested by EULEX authorities under the authority of the Kosovo Special Prosecution Office (SPRK), the EULEX press release said.
EULEX has no mandate to extradite any Kosovo citizen, the press release added. This makes any move to extradite Kelmendi, a Bosnian and Kosovar dual-citizen, more complex. The Bosnian Ministry of Justice is in the process of drafting an extradition request, Klix.ba reported.
Kelmendi has denied the charges against him, and claimed that the accusations are politically motivated, Klix.ba reported. The alleged drug trafficker had not turned himself in to Bosnian authorities because he felt the charges stemmed from his earlier support of certain politicians in Bosnia, Kelmendi’s lawyer said. Kelmendi maintains that he operates only legitimate businesses, and that the allegations made by Interpol are entirely false. However, BiH police and other law enforcement bodies believe Kelmendi, with his sons, operate a major regional drug and cigarette trafficking network. The US Government has also labeled him a drug kingpin.
Kelmendi has been either arrested or brought in for questioning before but has never been charged with serious crimes. He is known to be close to politicians and businessmen in the region including Fahrudin Radoncic, a sometime business associate who currently serves as the State Minister of Security.