The defence teams for three ex KLA commanders accused of war crimes during the 1999 Kosovo war, claimed that the Hague prosecution misrepresented witness testimonies.
On the second day of the presentation of closing arguments at the trial of former Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, Lahi Brahimaj and Idriz Balaj, Haradinaj’s lawyer Ben Emmerson submitted a list of misrepresentations that he alleges the prosecution made in order to mislead the court.
“Your honours will need to look very carefully at every single footnote from the prosecution’s closing brief, because regrettably I have to report that in the majority of cases the footnotes do not support the citations. In many cases the footnote is even flatly contradictory to the prosecution claims,” Emmerson said.
Idriz Balaj’s lawyer Guy Smith also attacked the credibility of the evidence presented by the prosecution. He called upon the court to examine whether the testimonies of the witnesses are reliable.
Speaking on Monday, the ICTY’s prosecutor Paul Rogers told the court that the three suspects had the authority to prevent crimes committed in the Jabllanica detention camp, but that they had encouraged the KLA soldiers to kill the prisoners at the camp instead.
“Naser Lika, Ivan Zaris, Agron Berisha, Burim Bejtja and many other witnesses named in the indictment were beaten and tortured and some of them were killed. Ramush Haradinaj supported these crimes,” the prosecution argued.
But Balaj’s attorney says that after going through the recorded testimonies of particular witnesses, he found unfinished quotations, which had been reported as evidence, which gave a quite different slant to the testimonies.
“How you choose to deal with that, directly reflect on how you choose to review the evidence that has been presented to you. And so far it is clear that you have received evidence from the prosecutor, which came through bribery, through blackmail, through torture and there have been misstatements,” Smith told the panel of judges.
Ramush Haradinaj’s defence team accused the ICTY prosecution of fabricating the case against their client, and asked the court to find him not guilty.
On Monday, the prosecution asked for 20 year in prison for Haradinaj.
Haradinaj, Brahimaj and Balaj were returned to the Hague Tribunal, ICTY, for a partial retrial after the prosecution convinced an appeals judge that it had not been given sufficient time to hear the evidence from two key witnesses.
In 2008, Haradinaj and Balaj were acquitted of all charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity during the Kosovo war, following a three-year trial. Brahimaj was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment for cruel treatment and torture.
Lahi Brahimaj’s attorney Richard Harvey is expected to present his closing arguments on Wednesday. The Trial Chamber of the Hague Tribunal is expected to reach a verdict within the next two months.