news 29 Nov 12

Amnesty Asks Who Committed War Crimes in Kosovo

Following the acquittal of three ex Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, commanders by the Hague Tribunal, Amnesty International questions whether anybody will answer for crimes in Kosovo committed during the 1998-1999 war.

Amnesty International, AI, has issued a statement following the acquittal of Ramush Haradinaj, a former Prime Minister of Kosovo, and his two co-defendants Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj, raising the questions who is guilty of war crimes committed against Kosovo Serbs during the war.

“Today’s verdict raises the question of if, as the court has established today, the three former high-ranking KLA members are not guilty, who then committed those crimes? Is anybody ever going to be brought to justice?” said John Dalhuisen, Director of Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia programme.   

The Trial Chamber of the Hague Tribunal, ICTY, has found Haradinaj, Brahimaj and Balaj not guilty of taking part a joint criminal enterprise establish KLA control in western Kosovo through detention camps.

The trio was also found not guilty of torture and murder of ethnic Serbs, Roma and Albanians who were deemed to have collaborated with Serbs, in a KLA-run camp at Jablanica in 1998.

According to Amnesty International an estimated 800 non-Albanians were allegedly abducted and murdered by members of the KLA and to date few of those suspected of criminal responsibility for these abductions have been prosecuted in Kosovo.

AI has called on the EU Rule of Law Mission to Kosovo, EULEX and the Kosovo authorities to “do everything in their power to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.”

“EULEX is charged with the investigation and prosecution of crimes under international law, including war crimes and crimes against humanity. Yet in 2009, EULEX transferred all 62 cases of abduction of members of minority communities to local prosecution offices, where they remain, without any further investigation or prosecution,” says AI.

”The Kosovo authorities have demonstrated a total lack of political will to support the investigation and prosecution of such abductions,” said Dalhuisen.

“This was made evident yet again earlier this week, when Prime Minister Hashim Thaci challenged EULEX’s right to arrest former KLA commander and ex-Minister of Transport Fatmir Limaj, on charges of the abduction, detention and murder of Albanians and Serbs.”

“In the face of such blatant political interference in the course of justice on the part of the Kosovo government, it is imperative that EULEX takes these 62 cases back under their jurisdiction in order to ensure that justice can be done in Kosovo,” concludes Dalhuisen.

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Background

Timeline: Cases for War Crimes in Pec Villages

Timeline of events in the case against 13 former Serb fighters charged with committing war crimes in the villages of Cuska, Zahac, Ljubenic and Pavlan in Kosovo in 1999.

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