news 24 Nov 17

Kosovo Special Court President Promises to Protect Witneses

On her first official visit to Pristina, the president of the new Kosovo Specialist Chambers, established to prosecute wartime and post-war crimes, said witneses will be protected.

Die Morina
BIRN
Pristina
Ekaterina Trendafilova in Pristina on Thursday. Photo: BIRN.

Ekaterina Trendafilova, the president of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers, which will try former Kosovo Liberation Army members for wartime and post-war abuses, promised during a visit to Pristina on Thursday that the new Hague-based court will ensure the safety of those who testify.

“Anyone who would decide to intimidate witnesses or to bribe witnesses… to create some problems for the witness or for the members of their family [will face charges],” Trendafilova told an information session for representatives of Kosovo civil society.

“The prosecutor is obliged to immediately start an investigation,” she added.

Previous trials of Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA fighters have faced serious difficulties with witnesses changing their statements, raising suspicions that the witnesses were intimidated by the defendants or their allies.

She also promised that the Specialist Chambers will deliver independent justice, and insisted that its mandate is to try cases against individuals, not organisations or ethnicities.

“I’m astonished to read articles that say the Specialist Chambers are going to investigate KLA crimes. The law is very clear, it speaks about individual responsibility,” she said.

“Anyone who is a citizen of Kosovo or the former Yugoslavia can be held responsible. Those who have committed crimes against these citizens are going to be held to account,” she added.

Trendafilova was appointed as the president of the Hague-based special court on December 2016.

Senior KLA figures are expected to be indicted for alleged crimes committed during and after the war with Serbian forces.

The new court will hear cases arising from the 2014 EU Special Investigative Task Force report which said that unnamed KLA officials would face indictments for a “campaign of persecution” against Serbs, Roma and Kosovo Albanians believed to be collaborators with the Belgrade regime.

The alleged crimes include killings, abductions, illegal detentions and sexual violence.

The court has international staff, but operates under Kosovo law. 

This month BIRN published a free-to-download e-book entitled ‘Kosovo Specialist Chambers: From Investigations to Indictments’, a comprehensive guide to how the court will work, what are its main challenges and what the key players have to say about the allegations and the forthcoming prosecutions.

The e-book can be downloaded free of charge in English, Albanian, Serbian and Macedonian.

To download the e-book, click here.

To download the pdf versions, click here.

In order to access the e-book, you may need to download an e-book reader. Here is our suggestion: https://fbreader.org

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