12 Kosovo officials acquitted of paying phony war veterans

International News

PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — A court in Kosovo on Tuesday acquitted a dozen former government officials of misusing public money in benefits payments to people who hadn’t fought during the 1998-1999 war.

The Pristina court said that the 12 defendants, who included former ministers and lawmakers, couldn’t be blamed for the illegal payments to around 19,000 fake war veterans, as the prosecutor’s office had charged them in 2018.

The prosecutor’s office said the state budget suffered 68 million euros ($79 million at the time) in losses claimed improperly from people falsely presenting themselves to be war veterans.

Kosovo offers benefits to former fighters of the 1998-1999 war for independence from Serbia.

A NATO-led air campaign in 1999 forced Serb troops out of Kosovo where an armed uprising by the ethnic Albanian majority population fought for independence. At the time, Kosovo was run by the United Nations until 2008 when it declared independence that Serbia refuses to recognize.

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