Thursday, July 22, 2010

ICJ Issues Opinion on Kosovo & ICTY Rules on Haradinaj Acquittal Appeal

The International Court of Justice, the highest court of the United Nations, has issued a non-binding opinion on the declaration of independence by Kosovo stating that international law does not prohibit declarations of independence and therefore Kosovo did not violate international lawwhen unilaterally declaring independence from Serbia in 2008.  Kosovo is expecting a rash of new recognitions following the ruling which has bolstered its stance that there is no further need for status negotiations with Serbia.  Serbia on the other hand has warned that the ruling will lead to a dangerous precedent of unilateral declarations of independence and destabilization of troubled areas.  Almost immediately following the announcement of the decision, there were a few bursts of fireworks (at 4:20pm it was a little hard to see them but I am sure there will be more tonight as the celebration in Pristina starts to kick in!)

In other very important news, the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY) has ruled that Ramush Haradinaj and Idriz Balaj must re-stand trial for war crimes following their acquittal.  Judges dismissed the charges against Haradinaj and Balaj for lack of evidence and prosecution cited witness intimidation.  In the appeal, the Tribunal President said that the trial judges failed to see the significance of intimidation which lead to a “miscarriage of justice“.  It is still unclear if the alleged intimidated witnesses will testify during the new trial which will take place in front of a new panel which still has yet been chosen and date set.  Haradinaj was taken into custody following the announcement but Balaj was not present in court and so far has not been taken into custody.  Both the Kosovo government and KLA Veterans Association issued statements of support for Haradinaj and concern that the retrial harms the political process in Kosovo.

As a follow-up to the news about the arrest and release of suspected terrorist Bajram Asllani, a panel of EULEX judges has upheld the decision not to extraditehim to the US stating that the Kosovo legal code does not permit extradition to other countries when the alleged crime has been committed in Kosovo.  The case is now being referred to the Kosovo Supreme Court.  It is not yet known if Asllani will face a similar situation regarding the 2009 court conviction for terrorism by Serbian courts as that information appears to be just given as a side note in most news rather than a disturbing fact to be corrected.

EULEX has continued its fight against corruption in Kosovo by putting focus on the Post and Telecom Company(PTK).  EULEX and the anti-corruption task force conducted raids in Pristina and Peja last week in various locations including the company’s top official, Shyqyri Haxha.  In addition to accusations of embezzlement, the company is under scrutiny for fraudulently issuing a contract to the Dardaphone Company “Z Mobile” for a multi-million Euro contract.