Friday, September 9, 2011

Two Kosovo Leaders Answer to War Crimes Charges

The long awaited re-trial of Ramush Haradinaj has begun in the Hague in late August.  Haradinaj and two other defendants are charged with six counts of war crimes.  The retrial is the first in the court's history and stems from the last minute appeal of the prosecution who were denied an extension in the last trial for more time to interview two witnesses. 

The case seems to mainly hinge on the testimony of Sevcet Kabashi and another witness designated only as "Witness X".  Kabashi appeared in Netherlands the day before the trial started and was arrested.  He is being held in the Hague and has separately plead guilty to contempt of court for refusing to testify.  When put on the stand Kabashi has repeatedly responded to the prosecutors that he cannot rememeber the details of previous statements or begins anti-tribunal rants.  With the prosecution failing to obtain testimony from Kabashi, one commentator wonders if the Haradinaj trial was over before it begun?

The other Kosovo leader facing renewed war crimes charges is Fatmir Limaj, who also is still under investigation by EULEX for corruption during his time as the Minister of Post, Telcomms, and Transport.  The charges are separate from the charges brought by the Hague for which he was acquitted in 2005.  Ten other defendants were arrested in early 2011 however Limaj has remained free due to questions about his immunity that stems from being a member of the Parliament.  The question for immunity has been forwarded to the Constitutional Court by Prime Minister Haschim Thaci who has been accussed of trying to eliminate potential political rivals as time nears for the presidential elections.  As SETimes explores, the indictment of Limaj has many political impacts for Kosovo.