Kosovo court finds opposition MPs guilty of using tear gas

Kosovar members of parliament sit in the assembly during a session in Pristina. Four opposition lawmakers have been found guilty of repeatedly disrupting parliament by using tear gas. (Reuters)
Updated 03 January 2018
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Kosovo court finds opposition MPs guilty of using tear gas

PRISTINA: A Kosovo court has found four opposition lawmakers guilty of repeatedly disrupting parliament by using tear gas.
The four members of the left-wing Self-Determination Party — Albin Kurti, Donika Kadaj Bujupi, Albulena Haxhiu and Faton Topalli — were sentenced Wednesday to up to 18 months in prison. They won’t be jailed, however, if they do not commit the same crime during a two-year probation period.
The verdict said in four parliamentary sessions the defendants had used “tear gas without authorization” to block lawmakers from working.
The opposition lawmakers since 2015 have used tear gas, blown whistles and thrown water bottles in parliament to protest a proposed border demarcation agreement with Montenegro. They say Kosovo is ceding territory under the agreement, a claim denied by the previous government and by international experts.
The agreement, which is yet to be approved by parliament, is a pre-condition for a visa-free regime for Kosovo citizens in the European Union’s Schengen travel zone.
Haxhiu defended their actions, saying “we defended the republic, its sovereignty and integrity.”
Political tensions in Kosovo remain high over the border deal, which is to be approved soon. Another issue is the opposition against a special court established to prosecute crimes committed during and after Kosovo’s 1998-1999 war with Serbia for independence. It is expected to issue indictments against former independence fighters.
Wednesday’s verdict comes at a delicate moment for the Self-Determination Party, the biggest single party in parliament, whose leader resigned recently amid party turmoil.
Next month Kosovo celebrates the 10th anniversary of its independence from Serbia, declared unilaterally in 2008 and recognized by most western nations but not by Serbia.


Britain’s Queen Elizabeth backs her son Charles to take on Commonwealth role

Updated 39 min 19 sec ago
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Britain’s Queen Elizabeth backs her son Charles to take on Commonwealth role

  • Queen Elizabeth: “It is my sincere wish that the Commonwealth will continue to offer stability and continuity for future generations and will decide that one day the Prince of Wales should carry on the important work started by my father in 1949.”
  • The leader of Britain’s opposition party suggested on Sunday the position should be rotated around the members.

LONDON: Britain’s Queen Elizabeth said on Thursday she hoped her son and heir Prince Charles would take on leadership of the Commonwealth, answering some who argue the position should be rotated around member states.
“It is my sincere wish that the Commonwealth will continue to offer stability and continuity for future generations and will decide that one day the Prince of Wales should carry on the important work started by my father in 1949,” the queen said at the formal opening of the Commonwealth heads of Government Meeting.
The meeting, taking place in Britain for the first time in 20 years, is seen as a chance to reconnect with former British colonies and revitalize the loose alliance of 53 Commonwealth countries ahead of Brexit.
The Commonwealth evolved out of the British empire in the mid-20th century, and the Queen has been its head since her reign began in 1952.
The question of who will follow Britain’s 91 year-old monarch into the role was raised in the run up to the summit. The leader of Britain’s opposition party suggested on Sunday the position should be rotated around the members.
Prime minister Theresa May also spoke at the opening ceremony and paid glowing tribute to the queen’s “service, dedication and constancy” in the role. May will lobby for Charles to be the queen’s successor when the issue is discussed over the next two days.
Prince Charles, 69, also made an informal pitch for the role in his remarks at the event in Buckingham Palace: “For my part, the Commonwealth has been a fundamental feature of my life for as long as I can remember.”