Sabit Geci

31.05.2016 ( Last modified: 10.06.2016 )
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Sabit Geci was born on 20 August 1958 in the village of Lauša, Municipality of Srbica.

In 1993, he joined the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and was in charge of the procurement of arms and the training of self-proclaimed KLA members in the region of Drenica. Later Geci became one of the local commanders of KLA in Northeastern Albania and Kosovo.

In his role as a commander of the KLA, he allegedly mistreated and tortured ethnic Albanian prisoners at a detention facility in the town of Kukes in Northeastern Albania during 1999. The Kukes detention facility was a key supply point for the KLA during the conflict in the 1990s. Some of the 40 people who were mistreated in Kukes were detained by the KLA in Durres. Geci also allegedly abducted Kosovo Serbs into northern Albania in concentration camp Daphne in Drenica, where he allegedly participated in the executions and torture of non-Albanian population, removed their organs and sold them on the black market.

He was arrested for the first time in October 2000 by UNMIK forces following a shooting incident at one of Pristina’s nightclubs. This arrest was related to his involvement in organized crime networks and extortion under the pretence of financing the KLA activities. Geci was tried in April 2001, and sentenced to 5 years and 6 months in jail by the UNMIK Tribunal for endangering security and damaging the property of others through extortion. In January 2002 the he court panel chaired by the International Judge Vagn Joensen upheld the sentence handed down to Sabit Geci, thus denying the appeal lodged by Geci’s lawyer.

In 2002 the EULEX began an investigation into Geci for mistreatment of persons held in KLA facilities in northern Albania during the conflict in 1998-1999.

legal procedure

In 2002 the EULEX began an investigation into Geci for mistreatment of persons held in KLA facilities in northern Albania during the conflict in 1998-1999. The KLA had maintained detainment cells in a base in the northeastern Albanian town of Kukes. The Prosecution suspects Geci of trafficking in organs of abducted civilians, who were tortured and killed by members of the KLA in the infamous “yellow house” near Kukes, as well as another case of war crimes at the camp Drenica in Kosovo.

In May 2010 the Special Prosecution of Kosovo issued an arrest warrant against Geci for suspicion of involvement in war crimes committed between April and June 1999.

On 6 May 2010, Sabit Geci was arrested by the European Union Law and Justice Mission (EULEX) Police Executive Department. The case relates to the ongoing war crimes investigations carried out by the ICTY, by the UN Mission in Kosovo, and most recently by the EU mission. Lawyers for Mr. Geci say he denies all charges, and that he was receiving medical treatment in Slovenia during the period mentioned by EULEX, April-June 1999.

On 6 August 2010, the Prosecutor indicted him for 6 counts of war crimes against the civilian population. On 24 November 2010, the pre-trial judge confirmed the indictment.

On 29 July 2011, the District Court of Mitrovica sentenced Geci to 15 years in prison and found him guilty of 4 counts of war crimes against the civilian population.



The conflict in former Yugoslavia from 1991 to 1999, shocked international public opinion because of the abuses revealed by the press, which were committed by all parties to the conflict (massacres, forced displacements of population, concentration camps …). The conflict is considered to consist of several separate conflicts, which were ethnic in nature – the war in Slovenia (1991), the war in Croatia (1991-1995), the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1992-1995) and the war Kosovo (1998-1999), which also involved the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999.

The conflicts accompanied the break-up of Yugoslavia, when the constituent republics declared their independence. The wars mostly ended after peace accords were signed, and new republics were given full international recognition of their statehood.

In order to restore peace and security in the region, the Security Council acting under Chapter VII of UN Charter, created on 25 May 1993, by Resolution 827, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). It was determined that pursuant to numerous reports of, among other, mass killings, systematic detention, rapes, practice of “ethnic cleansing”, transfers, etc., these acts constituted a threat to international peace and security, necessitating a reaction by Security Council. As the Tribunal was created during the ongoing conflict, the Security Council expressed its hopes that ICTY would contribute to halting violations in the region. Its headquarters are in The Hague, Netherlands.

The Tribunal has jurisdiction to prosecute persons responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law – grave breaches of Geneva Conventions, violations of laws and customs of war, genocide and crimes against humanity – allegedly committed in the territory of the former Yugoslavia after 1 January 1991, (no end date was specified). Since its creation, the ICTY has indicted more than 160 people, including heads of states and government members.

The Tribunal’s mandate was originally meant to expire on 31 December 2009, but the Security Council voted unanimously to extend the mandate of the Court with several judges, including permanent judges, so that the ongoing trials can be completed. According to the “ICTY Completion Strategy Report” from 18 May 2011, all trials were supposed to be completed by the end of 2012, and all the appeals by the end of 2015. The exceptions were cases of Radovan Karadzic, Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic.

The Security Council adopted resolution 1966 on 22 December 2010, establishing International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals. The ICTY residual mechanism began functioning on 1 July 2013.

The Tribunal was called to finish its work by the end of 2014, in order to prepare closure and transfer of cases to the Residual Mechanism. The Mechanism is a small and temporary body, which plays important role in ensuring that the completion strategy of ICTY does not result in impunity of fugitives and in injustice. It is conducting all outstanding first instance trials, including those of Karadzic, Mladic and Hadzic. It is also to complete all appeals proceedings that were filed before 1 July 2013.

The ICTY is not the only court with jurisdiction to try alleged perpetrators of serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the former Yugoslavia. The Tribunal has concurrent jurisdiction with national courts. However, it takes precedence over them and may require the referral from the national court at any stage of the proceedings (Article 9 of the ICTY Statute). The Statute does not elaborate how the primacy is to be exercised, but it was asserted by the judges of the ICTY in the Rules of Procedure and Evidence. The primacy can be asserted in three cases: when an international crime is intentionally or unwittingly prosecuted before national court as an “ordinary criminal offence”, when a national court is unreliable, or when the case is closely related, or may be relevant to other cases being tried by the ICTY.


National courts also have jurisdiction to prosecute alleged perpetrators of serious violations of international humanitarian law.

In the former Yugoslavia, the trials of those accused of war crimes have been opened by the courts of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Section for War Crimes was set up in the Criminal and Appellate Divisions of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Special Chamber for War Crimes has jurisdiction to prosecute the most serious alleged war crimes committed in Bosnia, and was created to relieve the ICTY, so that it can focus on criminals of high rank. Its establishment was also considered necessary for effective war crimes prosecution in Bosnia. The opening of the Special Chamber was on 9 March 2005.

Additionally, pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 1244 from 10 June 1999, UN administration was created in Kosovo. Consequently, in 2000 “Regulation 64” Panels in Courts of Kosovo were created, which are mixed chambers at the local courts. They have two international judges and one national. These panels work in collaboration with the ICTY. They have jurisdiction over those responsible for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. They focus on prosecuting lower ranking offenders.

In Serbia, the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor was established on 1 July 2003. It was created to detect and prosecute perpetrators of criminal offenses against humanity and international law, and offences recognised by the ICTY Statute, regardless of the nationality, citizenship, race or religion of the perpetrator and the victim, as long as the acts were committed on the territory of former Yugoslavia after 1 January 1991. Its seat is in Belgrade, Serbia.

Other relevant national jurisdictions are under the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows states with a specific legal basis, to try perpetrators of serious crimes regardless of their nationality or that of the victims and regardless of where the crime was committed.

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