News 28 Dec 17

Kosovo MP Warns New War Court Against Arrests

MP Daut Haradinaj, a former Kosovo Liberation Army fighter and brother of the prime minister, said that arrests by the new Hague-based Kosovo Specialist Chambers would cause a major backlash.

Die Morina
BIRN
Pristina
Daut Haradinaj. Photo: Daut Haradinaj/Facebook.

Daut Haradinaj, an Alliance for the Future of Kosovo MP who also is the brother of PM Ramush Haradinaj and fought with the Kosovo Liberation Army, told Klan Kosova TV on Wednesday that arrests by the new Specialist Chambers would cause a huge backlash from former KLA members.

Haradinaj warned that “there is no KLA fighter that will not join in” to help stop arrests by the new court, which is expected to try senior Kosovo Liberation figures for alleged crimes committed during and after the war in 1999, including killings, abductions, illegal detentions and sexual violence.

Haradinaj made his statement while commenting on Friday night’s attempt by MPs to revoke the law that allows the new Hague-based Kosovo Specialist Chambers to prosecute former KLA members for wartime and post-war crimes.

Under strong pressure from the US and the EU, the attempt failed as there was no quorum at the meeting of the parliamentary presidency to move the issue to a vote.

The initiative to challenge the law governing the new Specialist Chambers came after Kosovo Liberation Army veterans launched a petition calling for it to be changed because it was “discriminatory”, as the court will try former Kosovo Albanian guerrillas and not members of Serbian forces.

“I don’t think that it came as a surprise when it was known that there was a petition by the association of KLA veterans, and they sent it to the Kosovo Assembly to call a parliamentary session through which they requested the abolition of the law on this court, and we are legally obliged to deal with their petition, while in public it seemed more dramatic,” Haradinaj said.

President Hashim Thaci on Wednesday described the new court as a “historic injustice” against Kosovo Albanians.

Thaci told Radio Free Europe that the initiative signed by 43 MPs was an attempt to establish an alternative to the new court in Kosovo itself, just as domestic war crimes prosecutions have been set up in other former Yugoslav countries - Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia.

He added that he did not encourage MPs to back the initiative but would have signed it if the Kosovo Assembly voted for it.

“Even today I consider that [the Specialist Chambers] is a historic injustice, especially now when the Hague Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia is closed,” Thaci said.

“Now the question is, why something special for Kosovo, are we second-class citizens? Have we attacked any country? Serbia? Serbia occupied Kosovo and it was a defensive war by the liberators and population of Kosovo,” he added.

Thaci told Epoka e Re meanwhile that although he considers the new court to be an injustice, he pushed forward its establishment for the sake of preserving Kosovo’s partnership with the international community.

Asked about media reports that he could be one of those indicted by the Specialist Chambers, Thaci responded:  “I feel very proud of my entire activity with the Kosovo Liberation Army and I am convinced our war was pure, fair and legitimate.”

“This was the only way to win freedom and independence and if the Special Court is the price to pay for freedom, we will naturally take on all the responsibilities put on us both as citizens and institutional leaders,” he added.

Friday night’s attempt to revoke the law establishing the court was strongly opposed by Kosovo’s international allies.

“This effort, if it succeeds, will have profoundly negative implications for Kosovo’s future as part of Europe. It will be considered by the United States as a stab in the back,” US ambassador Greg Delawie told media that evening.

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