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23. 04. 2018.

Author: Jelena L. Petković ???source???: UNS

Professor and translator Shaban Hoti is 15th on the list of killed and kidnapped journalists and media workers in Kosovo

Shaban Hoti, professor of Russian language, translator and media worker, was captured and then killed, as part of the Russian State Television team, which in July of 1998 tried to interview KLA members in the village of Lapusnik.

He is the 15th person on the list of killed and kidnapped journalists and media workers in Kosovo, in a UNS survey.

Upon the arrival in Pristina, on July 20, 1998, the Russian State Television team asked Hoti, a professor at the Department of Russian Language and Literature at the Pristina University, who, in addition to his mother language, spoke English well, for help.

Hoti, born in 1945 in Ratkovac, and on on July 21, 1998, as an interpreter he went with journalist Oleg Safiulin, cameraman Alexander Galanov and sound technician Viktar Mamaev, on a journalistic assignment.

On the Pristina-Peja road, in the village of Lapusnik, members of the KLA first stopped their vehicle and told them that they could not record, and then captured them, took away the equipment, documents and money.

Two hours later, Hoti was separated from the group and he was driven by another vehicle to the foot of a nearby hill. The next time the reporters saw him in a house in Lapusnik. He was beaten, his shirt was bloody and he was very frightened.

- When I was stripped off the blindfold, I saw Shaban Hoti because he was translating this conversation. It was clear that they were beaten him. He had a hematoma on his face, blood on his pants, on a shirt and on his shoes, and he was very scared. He simply shivered with fear. He seemed lost - said journalist Oleg Safiulin, testifying before the Trubunal in The Hague.

On July 21, 1998, at around 19:30, Russian journalists were released, but not Shaban Hoti. On the eve of the entry of Serb forces into Lapusnik, five days later, Hoti was shot at Berisha Mountain. At that location, in April 2001, his remains were exhumed from a mass grave.

For the murder of Shaban Hoti and another eight civilians, Hajrednin Balaj, the war nickname "Shala", was identified as a guard in the camp in Lapusnik, and sentenced on 13 years in prison, before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). He was found guilty of cruel treatment, torture and murder of nine prisoners on the Berisha Mountain.

This was the first verdict handed down by the Tribunal for war crimes in Kosovo on November 30, 2005. The indictment also included former KLA regional commander Fatmir Limaj and his subordinate Isak Musliu, but they were acquitted because "the Prosecution did not prove that they had command or any other role in the KLA camp in Lapusnik and the crimes committed therein in the summer 1998 ".

Hajredin Baljaj died on January 31, 2018. On that day, the Kosovo Assembly began with a minute of silence in which representatives of the Serbian List participated. On this occasion, they stated they were "victims of unprecedented political fraud” and "translation being turned off”.

A protected witness also testified about these crimes before the Hague Tribunal, who was also captured in Lapusnik. He also talked about the brutal beatings of Professor Shaban Hoti, and on the one of the prosecutor's questions, he answered: "In the first room, in the one in which we were the first time, Shala said: “Look what's going to happen to who's going to translate for the Russians”. 

The name of Professor Saban Hoti is in the Kosovo Memory Book of the Belgrade based Humanitarian Law Centar. Mr. Hoti is listed as a professor, translator and journalist.

More on this topic on the UNS website in the coming days.

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