PRISTINA (Reuters) - A Kosovar former spy and guerilla fighter was jailed for four and a half years on Friday for killing a man during a period of deadly political score-settling after the country’s 1998-99 war.
Nazim Bllaca said he was a member of an intelligence group that emerged from the guerrilla Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and was affiliated with the political party of Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, himself a former guerrilla commander.
Thaci’s Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) has denied having any links to the case.
Bllaca admitted to killing Ibush Kllokoqi in August 1999, saying his superiors had told him Kllokoqi had collaborated with the Serbian authorities during the conflict.
“The defendant pulled the trigger and Ibush Kllokoqi was deprived of his life,” Mariola Pasnik, a judge from the EU police and justice mission in Kosovo(EULEX) said at the Pristina court.
“From 2009 he has expressed deep remorse and publicly confessed to the killing,” the judge added.
Six other men were jailed last year for a total of 72 years after being convicted of related charges of murder and attempted murder. All had denied involvement or being members of the shadowy Kosovo Information Service (SHIK).
Court officials said Bllaca had received a smaller sentence because he had acted as a prosecution witness in the trials last year.
Bllaca followed the proceedings via video link from a secure location. His house is guarded 24 hours a day by European Union special police officers.
SHIK announced in 2008 that it ceased all activity, four months after Kosovo declared independence from Serbia following almost a decade spent in limbo as a ward of the United Nations.
NATO had intervened in 1999 with 11 weeks of air strikes to halt a brutal crackdown on ethnic Albanian civilians by Serbian forces under late strongman Slobodan Milosevic during a two-year counter-insurgency war with the KLA.
The post-war period was marred by spasms of inter-ethnic violence and political murders.
Editing by Zoran Radosavljevic and Andrew Heavens