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Kosovo Albanian gets 40 years for fatal blast

June 07, 2008|From Reuters

PRISTINA, KOSOVO — An ethnic Albanian man was sentenced Friday to 40 years in prison for a 2001 bus bombing that killed 11 Serbs in one of Kosovo's worst attacks since its 1998-99 war.

Florim Ejupi was convicted of planting and detonating a bomb that destroyed a bus carrying Serb pilgrims heading to the monastery town of Gracanica, minutes after the convoy entered Kosovo.

The United Nations said the bus carried 57 passengers. In addition to the 11 killed, 22 were injured, it said.

Ejupi was convicted of 11 counts of murder and dozens of counts of attempted murder, as well as terrorism, causing general danger, racial and other discrimination and illegal possession of explosives.

The sentence was handed down by a panel of three international judges.

The bombing was one of the worst in a spate of revenge attacks on Serbs after North Atlantic Treaty Organization bombs drove out Serb forces to halt the killing and "ethnic cleansing" of ethnic Albanians.

Ejupi was arrested but escaped from the fortress-like U.S. military base Bondsteel in Kosovo in April 2001. He was re-arrested in Albania in 2004.

Ejupi is also charged with the killing of a U.N. police officer and his ethnic Albanian colleague in 2004.

Kosovo, where 90% of the 2 million people are ethnic Albanian, declared independence from Serbia in February with the backing of Western nations.

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