Sunday, August 28, 2011

Key Kosovo Witness Pleads Guilty of Contempt at ICTY

On Friday, a key witness pleaded guilty to contempt of court at the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY) for refusing to testify in the 2007 trial of former Kosovo prime minister Ramush Haradinaj, on charges of crimes against humanity.  The witness, Shefqet Kabashi, was a member of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which Mr. Haradinaj commanded in 1997-98 in its conflict with the Serbs. The ICTY acquitted Mr. Haradinaj in 2008 of charges of murder, rape, torture, abduction, cruel treatment, imprisonment and the forced deportation of ethnic Serbian and Kosovar Roma civilians.  But appeals judges partially quashed the acquittal in 2010, calling for a re-trial because the trial chamber had not done more to ensure the testimony of certain witnesses given “serious witness intimidation,” thus depriving the prosecution of vital support for its case. The original trial had heard how many witnesses felt unsafe. Earlier this month, the tribunal said Mr. Kabashi’s testimony was relevant as it related to the alleged responsibility of Mr. Haradinaj and two co-accused, Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj, on six counts of torture and murder of prisoners at the KLA headquarters and the prison in Jablanica/Jabllanicë.


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