June 18, 2013 / 1:42 PM / 4 years ago

Former Kosovo deputy PM cleared of corruption

PRISTINA (Reuters) - A former deputy prime minister of Kosovo was acquitted of corruption on Tuesday, in a blow to EU prosecutors who had charged him as part of a drive to root out graft in the young Balkan country.

Three government officials on trial with him were jailed for 8 to 18 months, but Bujar Bukoshi was found not guilty of abuse of office and corruption over a six-month period in 2010.

Bukoshi was charged last year following an investigation led by the EU’s police and justice mission in Kosovo, known as EULEX, and is one of the most prominent targets of its prosecutors so far.

The EU mission handles cases of major corruption and war crimes, because of concerns over the effectiveness of Kosovo’s own police and judiciary.

Bukoshi was Kosovo’s prime minister in exile during the 1990s, when the territory’s ethnic Albanian majority battled to shake off Serbian rule, culminating in a brutal Serbian counter-insurgency war which was ended by a NATO bombing campaign.

The former province declared independence from Serbia in 2008. Bukoshi served in Prime Minister Hashim Thaci’s government but quit in 2012 pending trial.

Reporting by Fatos Bytyci; Editing by Matt Robinson and Mark Trevelyan

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