Suspicious Death of Astrit Dehari Must Be Investigated

Civil Rights Defenders expresses deep concerns and calls for an immediate and independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Astrit Dehari at the Prizren Detention Center in Kosovo.

The 26-year-old Vetvendosje activist and student died on November 5, 2016, while in custody at the detention center. Astrit Dehari had been held without charge since August 2016 on suspicion of terrorism.

“It is the duty of state institutions to protect the lives of persons that are deprived of their liberty. The death of Astrit Dehari at Prizren detention center is disturbing and requires and independent and transparent investigation into the circumstances of his death,” said Sarah Maliqi, program officer at the Civil Rights Defenders office in Pristina.

State institutions have time and time again released contradictory statements surrounding the cause of his death. The Kosovo police director of the Prizren region confirmed that Dehari had died on his way to hospital after falling into coma induced by an overdose.

“The contradictory statements issued by the police and correctional services following the announcement of his death have created an atmosphere of mistrust, frustration and fear. Civil Rights Defenders will closely monitor the situation and continue to voice our concerns,” added Maliqi.

Not an overdose death

Astrit Dehari had been held without charge since August 2016 on suspicion of terrorism.

Following the autopsy, the Prizren Chief Prosecutor's Office described his death as suspicious and confirmed that the death was caused by asphyxiation and not by overdose, as had previously been claimed. His family has also arranged a subsequent autopsy.

Civil Rights Defenders urges the authorities to honor their obligations when it comes to protecting persons deprived of their liberty and to take all essential measures to prevent prisoners from being tortured or subjected to cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment.