Kosovo court jails four for 2016 parliament rocket attack

PRISTINA (Reuters) - A court in Kosovo on Friday sentenced four people, including a member of parliament, to prison terms ranging from 2 to 8 years for taking part in a grenade attack against the parliament building last year.

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The four were found responsible for throwing a rocket propelled grenade at the building in August last year in order to halt adoption of a border deal with Montenegro. No one was injured in the attack.

Tensions between opposition parties and the then-ruling coalition rose last summer as the parliament was getting ready to adopt border deal with Montenegro, key for Kosovo to get visa-free travel regime with the European Union.

Opposition parties opposed the deal saying the country of 1.8 million is losing land by handing over some 8,000 hectares (19,700 acres)of Kosovo territory to Montenegro.

In a protest over the deal, opposition deputies released tear gas in the parliament chamber, while its supporters clashed with the police during street protests.

Frasher Krasniqi, parliament deputy of the biggest opposition party Vetevendosje was found guilty and sentenced to 8 years in prison.

Adea Batusha, 23, a niece of Vetevendosje’s leader, was sentenced to two years in prison.

One of the defendants was found dead in his cell in November 2016 before the trial started. Vetevendosje blamed the authorities for this death but police said he killed himself.

“For all these unjust judgments, sooner or later, those criminals who ordered these fabricated trials will be held accountable, before the law and before the history,” Frasher Krasniqi wrote in his Facebook page after the verdict.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, nearly a decade after NATO bombing drove Serb forces from its territory.

Reporting by Fatos Bytyci; Editing by Ivana Sekularac/Jeremy Gaunt