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High-level corruption cases in the Western Balkans and Turkey

Commission for the recognition and verification of the status war veterans - High-level corruption cases in the Western Balkans and Turkey

Commission for the recognition and verification of the status war veterans

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Introduction

In January 2012, the Government of Kosovo established the State Commission for the Recognition and Verification of the Status of Martyrs, Invalids and War Veterans. The commission reviewed the applications of citizens to obtain Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) veteran status, which entitles holders to a state pension (see here and here).

Country
Kosovo
Sector
Public finance
Offence
Violating the equal status of citizens
Phase
1st instance verdict

Description of the case

In January 2012, the Government of Kosovo established the State Commission for the Recognition and Verification of the Status of Martyrs, Invalids and War Veterans. The commission reviewed the applications of citizens to obtain Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) veteran status, which entitles holders to a state pension (see here and here).

During the application period from 15 November 2012 until 28 February 2013, the commission accepted over 50,000 applications. It decided to extend the deadline and continued accepting applications until 2015. In this period, the number of applications rose to 100,000. However, various reports and statistics state that the Kosovo Liberation Army had no more than 25,000 members (see here and here).

In June 2016, Kosovo’s Special Prosecution initiated an investigation claiming that the commission committed serious violations during the verification process by manipulating and inflating the number of veterans. The commission allowed the same officials who verified the applications in the first phase to review the complaints. This made the possibility of further manipulation even more likely. In addition, the commission was accused of certifying applicants with KLA veteran status when the verification of final lists was still ongoing.

A total of 46,230 applications for KLA veteran status were approved. However, approximately 19,000 of these applicants did not meet the requirements for this status and the right to a state pension.

In addition to a state pension, KLA veterans receive benefits such as free health care, priority employment, free urban transport, priority admission to public education institutions and exemption from administrative fees for public universities. According to the media, people paid bribes of up to €5,000 to receive veteran status. These actions damaged the budget of the Republic of Kosovo, costing an amount claimed to be €68.1 million (see here).

Members of the state commission are nominated by the Prime Minister’s Office, ministries and representatives of organisations of veterans. Agim Çeku, Nuredin Lushtaku, Sadik Halitjaha, Shkumbin Demaliaj, Qelë Gashi, Shukri Buja, Ahmet Daku, Rrustem Berisha, Faik Fazliu, Smajl Elezaj, Fadil Shurdhaj and Xhavit Jashari were all ex-commanders of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) who became commission members. After the war, many of them held senior positions in public offices such as prime minister, minister, deputy minister, member of parliament, mayor or head of a veterans’ association.