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The American prosecutor working to bring to justice former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army accused of crimes against ethnic Serbs in Kosovo's war for independence is stepping down at the end of next month.

Specialist Prosecutor David Schwendiman issued a statement Thursday, saying he will leave the post at the end of March because his three-year term as a U.S. State Department foreign service officer is coming to an end and cannot be extended. -

Schwendiman says he issued the statement to make clear he was not resigning or being fired from his post.

His investigations aim to indict suspects who would then be put on trial at the Hague-based court known as the Kosovo Specialist Chambers. Schwendiman has not yet issued any indictments.




The city of Sturgis and a Meade County landowner have appealed the South Dakota Supreme Court's decision in favor of the incorporation of the city of Buffalo Chip.

Buffalo Chip is located outside Sturgis and used to be a campground mainly used by motorcyclists.

The court last month said any challenge to a 2015 vote to incorporate Buffalo Chip must be brought by the state.

The Black Hills Pioneer reports that the city of Sturgis and landowner Jane Murphy this week asked for a rehearing of the case. Murphy says, "this is such a mess and the court did nothing to clear it up."


Since the International Criminal Court began collecting material three months ago for a possible war crimes case involving Afghanistan, it has gotten a staggering 1.17 million statements from Afghans who say they were victims.

The statements include accounts of alleged atrocities not only by groups like the Taliban and the Islamic State group, but also involving Afghan Security Forces and government-affiliated warlords, the U.S.-led coalition, and foreign and domestic spy agencies, said Abdul Wadood Pedram of the Human Rights and Eradication of Violence Organization.

Based in part on the many statements, ICC judges in The Hague would then have to decide whether to seek a war crimes investigation. It's uncertain when that decision will be made.

The statements were collected between Nov. 20, 2017, and Jan. 31, 2018, by organizations based in Europe and Afghanistan and sent to the ICC, Pedram said. Because one statement might include multiple victims and one organization might represent thousands of victim statements, the number of Afghans seeking justice from the ICC could be several million.

"It is shocking there are so many," Pedram said, noting that in some instances, whole villages were represented. "It shows how the justice system in Afghanistan is not bringing justice for the victims and their families."

The ICC did not give details about the victims or those providing the information.

"I have the names of the organizations, but because of the security issues, we don't want to name them because they will be targeted," said Pedram, whose group is based in Kabul.

Many of the representations include statements involving multiple victims, which could be the result of suicide bombings, targeted killings or airstrikes, he said.


Kosovo's president on Wednesday called an international war crimes court with jurisdiction over potential Kosovar suspects a "historical injustice," adding his government only reluctantly accepted it as the "price for its liberty."

In an interview with The Associated Press ahead of the 10th anniversary of Kosovo declaring independence from Serbia, Hashim Thaci slammed the court, based in The Hague, Netherlands, as akin to creating a court to judge Jews who were persecuted by the Nazis in World War II.

"Kosovo held a defensive war for its existence as a nation and attacked no one," he said. "We have nothing to hide."

Kosovo's bloody war for independence ended with a 78-day NATO air campaign in June 1999, which stopped a bloody Serbian crackdown against ethnic Albanian separatists. The war left 13,000 dead and 20,000 Albanian women raped, according to Thaci.

Under U.S. and European pressure, Kosovo's government agreed in 2015 to set up the Kosovo war crimes court, known as the Special Chambers, to confront allegations that fighters with the Kosovo Liberation Army committed war crimes against ethnic Serbs from 1998 to 2000. The court, which has jurisdiction over Kosovo citizens, has yet to hear any cases.

U.S Ambassador to Kosovo Greg Delawie said Wednesday the court was meant to provide justice to the victims.


Public officials and homeless advocates reached an agreement Tuesday on providing for homeless people who are being evicted from an encampment in a Southern California riverbed.

Orange County officials said they would use motels and other means to get 700 to 800 beds for the homeless driven from the encampment in Anaheim.

"We pledge up to 400 motel rooms, immediately," County Supervisor Andrew Do told the court, adding that the county would also add beds to other facilities and could put up a tent on a county-owned parking lot if space was needed.

Brooke Weitzman, an attorney for the plaintiffs seeking to stop the eviction, said she was concerned that the tent dwellers would not trust county officials' offer of help on such short notice, but U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter told her notices would go up as soon as Wednesday and he trusted their word.

He said he suspected homeless residents who don't want help, and want to wander, will move elsewhere.

"If you want to solve this, this is the one opportunity we really have, all the county leaders and the city leaders in one place," Carter said, after officials emerged from four hours of talks.

The sides agreed that social workers would help the homeless find longer term housing after the initial relocation, which will take place in a week.

The deal came at the demand of Carter, who called the sides in for the unusual hearing on Tuesday and is known for summoning public officials for questioning.

He called on Orange County officials, veterans, women's advocates and others to step up and offer solutions for those living on the two-mile (3.2 kilometer) stretch of riverbed trail once popular with joggers and bikers that has been overrun by tents, trash and human waste.


A confidante accused of collaborating with South Korea's former president for personal gain was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years in prison for bribery and other crimes in a political scandal that triggered the country's first presidential impeachment and the conviction of an heir to the Samsung empire.

The Seoul Central District Court also sentenced the chairman of the Lotte Group, South Korea's fifth-largest conglomerate, to 2 ½ years in prison for bribery in the same case.

Former President Park Geun-hye was impeached last March and removed from office in disgrace. She is standing trial on more than a dozen criminal charges, and the case against her close friend could hint at the penalty Park could face if convicted.

The court convicted Choi Soon-sil of abuse of power, bribery and other crimes and fined her 18 billion won ($17 million). Choi left the courtroom quietly after the sentencing without showing any emotion.

Among her crimes was pressuring major companies to donate large sums to foundations under her control and receiving bribes from Samsung and Lotte.

The court said Choi's crimes were grave given how they led to the impeachment of a president and disappointed the public.

Choi's lawyer, Lee Kyung-jae, said she would appeal. At her final court hearing in December, Lee called the accusations a complete fabrication by politicians, civic groups, media and politically motivated prosecutors who wanted to overthrow Park's government, according to Yonhap News agency.

In the Lotte case, the court said Chairman Shin Dong-bin offered 7 billion won ($6.5 million) in payments to Choi's foundations to curry favors such as winning a state license to open a duty-free shop and to strengthen his control over the group. Lotte has interests in retail, confectionary and many other businesses.

The sentencing sent a shockwave through the South Korean business community, which had been relieved to see an appeals court release Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong from prison last week on a suspended sentence with some of his convictions overturned.

In a third case Tuesday, the court sentenced one of Park's former senior aides, Ahn Jong-beom, to six years in prison for abuse of power.

Choi was largely unknown to the South Korean public until a series of revelations in late 2016 disclosed how she allegedly pulled government strings from the shadows, editing presidential speeches and wielding influence over government personnel even though she held no official government position.

She also influenced the college admission process for her daughter, a national equestrian team member who was accepted by a top university in Seoul, enraging the public and helping to spark massive anti-government candlelight rallies. Choi received a three-year prison term last June in a separate case related to influence-peddling in university admissions.

Her case brought the debate about ties between politics and business in South Korea to the fore, as several top business leaders were implicated in the scandal. Her daughter's equestrian training overseas was scrutinized and questions were raised about whether Samsung's purchase of expensive horses for her daughter constituted bribery.

The appeals court ruling that allowed Lee, Samsung's vice chairman, to be freed last week after nearly a year in jail said Lee was unable to reject Park's request to financially support Choi and was coerced into making the payments


The survival of one of the nation's largest virtual charter schools is on the line when the Ohio Supreme Court hears arguments Tuesday in a case that could have broader impact on accountability for other e-schools.

The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow challenges how Ohio tallied students' participation to determine the online school should repay $60 million or more.

The state says ECOT didn't provide data from students' online work to justify the school's full public funding in recent years.

ECOT argues that state law calls for calculating charter-school funding based on enrollment, not participation, and that Ohio's Department of Education effectively changed the criteria without legal authority.

After the state started recouping funding, the e-school of some 12,000 students was abruptly closed last month as it ran out of money.

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