Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Kosovo Constitutional Court Rules Against Diplomatic Immunity

The Kosovo Constitutional Court has ruled that Kosovo parliamentarians and government officials do not have diplomatic immunity in response to the EULEX request for clarification that was forwarded by PM Haschim Thaci.  Within 24 hours of the announcement of the court's decision, EULEX placed Fatmir Limaj under a 30-day house arrest in connection with war crimes charges filed earlier this year.  The date of the trial has not been set yet but it is rumored that the trial will begin on 17 October according to local media or late October according to EULEX.

The decision of the Constitutional Court has been criticized by various members of the Kosovo government as a threat to democracy and political maneuvering to get rid of competition in the run-up to the presidential elections next year.  Some Kosovo politicians worry that removing diplomatic immunity from parliamentarians will lead to less freedom as members of the government will fear retribution for speaking out against powerful politicians and have a negative impact on the working of the parliament because its members can be detained while the parliament is in session, as the case with the upcoming session which Fatmir Limaj will have to sit out due to his house arrest.  Other politicians say that it is a move by PM Thaci to create a police state. 

The war crimes trial of former PM Ramush Haradinaj is continuing after a three week break.  The court heard testimony from a protected witness, designated at Witness 077, who was reportedly a member of the FARK (Armed Forces of the Republic of Kosovo) who crossed into Kosovo from Albania.  The witness told the court that the Haradinaj, a commander in the KLA, told the FARK brigade to "go back where they came from" and alleges that five of the FARK members were taken and killed by the KLA.