Officials involved in illegal deportation of Turkish teachers indicted by Kosovar court

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A court in Pristina has accepted the indictment of three officials involved in the illegal deportation of six Turkish teachers to Turkey on March 29, 2018, Turkish media reported on Friday.

According to the reports, the three people under indictment are Driton Gashi, former head of the Kosovo Intelligence Agency; Valon Krasniqi, director of the Department of Citizenship and Migration at the Interior Ministry; and Rrahman Sylejmani, head of the Directorate of Migration and Foreigners in the Kosovo Border Police.

The indictment accuses both Gashi and Krasniqi of “abuse of official position or authority,” while Sylejmani is accused of both “abuse of official position or authority” and “illegal deprivation of liberty.”

The court recently rejected a request by the defendants’ lawyers to dismiss the indictment, underlining in its ruling that there was sufficient evidence supporting the claims that the defendants were involved in the illegal deportation of six Turkish teachers to Turkey in 2018.

The six teachers — Kahraman Demirez, Mustafa Erdem, Hasan Hüseyin Günakan, Yusuf Karabina, Osman Karakaya and Cihan Özkan — were arrested at Turkey’s request over alleged links to Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, and forcibly transported to Turkey.

Gashi was fired following the illegal deportation of the Turkish nationals, which the then-prime minister, Ramush Haradinaj, claimed had happened without his knowledge.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-Prime Minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.

Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. Erdoğan intensified the crackdown on the movement following a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) concluded in September that the arrest, detention and forced transfer to Turkey of the teachers by Kosovar and Turkish state agents were arbitrary and in violation of international human rights norms and standards.

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