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, while the prosecution asked for 20 year jail term.
On the second day of the presentation of closing arguments at the war crimes trial against former Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj and two other men Haradinaj’s lawyer, Ben Emmerson argued that the prosecution had failed to prove the command and control structure.
According to the indictment, during the conflict in Kosovo, Haradinaj was a commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, Idriz Balaj was the commander of the Black Eagles Unit within the KLA, and Lahi Brahimaj was a KLA member stationed in the force’s Jabllanice headquarters in the western Gjakove municipality.
The trio in the case, known as Haradinaj et al, are indicted on charges relating to the murder, kidnap, torture and rape of Serbs, Roma and Albanians between March and September 1998.
Emmerson argues that during the Kosovo war the reality on the ground was different, and that the KLA was not structured like a conventional army but that “farmers or labourers by day would serve as soldiers by night,” .
“There was no professional army on the Albanian side, no general command that would be known in any conventional army. In that context, Mr. Haradinaj was a commander of those who had chosen to follow him on a particular day,” the defense lawyer said.
During the first day of the presentation of his closing arguments on Monday Emmerson, had argued that the prosecution had not left any stone unturned, and had called every witness, but could still not prove his client guilty.
“I would ask the court to spell out in the judgment the undeniable fact, that after 7 years and 2 trials, Mr. Ramush Haradinaj is innocent, properly innocent of the crimes he was charged with, and that it is a lie that Mr. Haradinaj was somehow complicit in the commission of the war crimes, “ said Emmerson.
Emmerson also claimed that Serbia had handed over unreliable evidence to secure Haradinaj’s conviction.
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.
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.
The prosecution has asked for 20 year in prison for Haradinaj.