Haradinaj could face partial Hague retrial

The Hague Tribunal prosecution requested a partial retrial of Ramush Haradinaj.

The prosecution claims that the initial trial, which resulted in the ethnic Albanian’s acquittal on charges of crimes in Kosovo in 1998, was not just.

According to the April 2008 judgment, Haradinaj and second defendant Idriz Balaj were found not guilty on all 37 counts of the indictment for crimes against Serbs, Roma and ethnic Albanians in the vicinity of the town of Dečani in 1998.

A third defendant Lah Brahimaj, was sentenced to six years in prison for the cruel treatment of captives in the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) camp in the village of Jablanica.

In its appeal, the prosecution urges the tribunal’s Appeals Chamber to order a retrial on six of the 37 counts of the indictment, which refer to crimes against the Jablanica captives.

In the Oct. 28 debate on the appeal, prosecutor Peter Kremer said that the Haradinaj trial was not just because the tribunal did not put enough effort into questioning the two key prosecution witnesses, who had refused to testify due to being harassed and intimidated.

According to the prosecutor, the Trial Chamber acted unjustly when it failed to approve additional time requested by the prosecutors at the end of the trial for the two witnesses’ testimonies.

Haradinaj’s defense dismissed the prosecution’s request as unsubstantiated, claiming that the judges did everything they could to question all available witnesses. Also, as defense attorney Ben Emersson put it, there is no indication that the two witnesses would agree to appear in a new trial.

One of the witnesses, Shefqet Kabashi, refused to testify twice – once in the Hague tribunal courtroom and another time via video link from New York – and was consequently charged with contempt of court.

Despite the tribunal’s order, Kabashi fled The Hague during the Haradinaj trial and went to the U.S., of which he is a citizen.

Prosecutor Kremer pointed out that Kabashi was a member of the KLA in Jablanica and witnessed the abuse of prisoners, some of whom died. According to a written statement given to the prosecution, Kabashi saw Balaj and Brahimaj beating up prisoners and also saw Haradinaj come to the camp often.

The identity of the other witness remains protected, but he too, prior to refusing to testify, gave a statement to prosecutors on the defendants’ connection to the atrocities in Jablanica.

Prosecutor Kremer said that both refused to testify “out of fear,” and despite that the judges refused to grant the prosecution more time to try and change their minds.

As proof that Kabashi was under pressure not to take the stand, the prosecutor quoted him as saying that “protective measures do not exist in reality, but only in the courtroom”

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