Prosecutor indicts Kosovo crime ring led by ex-lawmaker

An international prosecutor has charged a group of Kosovo Albanians and Serbs, including a former lawmaker, with organizing a crime ring involved in money laundering, bribery, fraud, abuse of power and tax evasion.

The European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo made the indictment Tuesday. In a statement it said 39 defendants, headed by a former lawmaker known to be Azem Syla of the governing Democratic Party of Kosovo, cooperated "to deprive Kosovo of socially owned properties through criminal activities including the falsification of verdicts and of other official documents, fraud and corrupt behavior."

Syla, 65, was arrested in April. He was a top commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army during the 1998-99 separatist war against Serbia. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, a move Belgrade still rejects.