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.


Palestinian Academic ‘killed by Mossad’ in Malaysia, says family

Updated 43 min 11 sec ago
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Palestinian Academic ‘killed by Mossad’ in Malaysia, says family

  • Fadi Mohammed Al-Batsh was gunned down by two men on a motorcycle outside a mosque in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.
  • Al-Batash had been living in Malaysia since 2012 and was teaching at the Universiti Kuala Lumpur British-Malaysian Institute.

Kuala Lumpur: A Palestinian academic from Gaza was shot dead by two unidentified assailants on a motorbike early on Saturday morning.
Fadi Al-Batsh, 35, was on his way to the neighboring mosque at 6am when he was gunned down outside of the condominium he lived in, according to Datuk Mazlan Lazim, Kuala Lumpur police chief.
He said that the two attackers had waited for Al-Batsh in front of a residential building in the Setapak district of the Malaysian capital for almost 20 minutes and fired at least 10 bullets, killing him instantly.
Al-Batsh’s family said they suspected that Mossad, Israel’s intelligence service, was behind his murder.
Anwar Al-Agha, Palestine’s ambassador to Malaysia, later identified the victim, an engineering lecturer, but declined to say if he was a member of Hamas.
Hamas, which exercises de facto control over Gaza, said one of its members was “assassinated” in Malaysia but stopped short of accusing Israel’s secret service of carrying out the killing.
Batsh’s uncle, Jamal Al-Batsh, speaking to Reuters in the Gaza Strip, said he believed the killing was the work of Mossad. When asked who he blamed, he replied: “The Israeli Mossad. The Israeli Mossad stood behind the assassination of educated people and intellectuals because Israel knows Palestine will be liberated by scientists.”
Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Malaysia’s deputy prime minister, said the government was looking into the possibility of the involvement of “foreign agents” in the killing, AP reported. He told local media that initial investigations showed that the assailants in Saturday morning’s attack were “white men” driving a powerful BMW 1100cc motorbike.
“His killing could have some links with foreign intelligence agencies or he may also be considered a liability to nations friendly to Palestine,” Hamidi was quoted as saying by the New Straits Times English-language daily.
The murder sent shockwaves across the peaceful neighborhood where he lived and where most residents are from Africa and the Middle East. Bashir Abei, 34, a student, said that Al-Batash was a respectable Imam. “I’ve been living here for five years. This is the first time such a case ever happened here,” he said.
Al-Batash had been living in Malaysia since 2012 and was teaching at the Universiti Kuala Lumpur British-Malaysian Institute. He obtained his undergraduate and masters degrees in Gaza before continuing his PhD at Malaya University (UM) under a Khazanah Foundation scholarship program run by the Malaysian government. He also received the foundation’s high-achiever award from Najib Razak, Malaysian prime minister, for his research work.
Kamarul Zaman Shaharul Anwar, head of Humanitarian Care Malaysia and a friend of Al-Batash, said that he was a good family man with three children and an exceptionally intelligent man who had served as an imam in the neighborhood’s nearby mosque for the past five years.
“I believe the murder happened because of his expertise as a PhD in electrical engineering,” he said.
Ahmad Shehaz, 28, a student and close friend of Al-Batash, also shared Kamarul’s sentiment. “There are more than 5,000 Palestinians and undergraduates and postgraduates (in Malaysia). Why did they choose to kill Fadi?” he said.
Datuk Nur Jazlan, Malaysian deputy home minister, told Arab News the Malaysian police were still investigating the case and did not elaborate further.