Key witness in Kosovo war crimes case handed over to UN tribunal

18 August 2011

Dutch authorities today handed over to the United Nations war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia a key witness cited for contempt for refusing to testify in the trial of former Kosovo prime minister Ramush Haradinaj on charges of crimes against humanity.

Shefqet Kabashi, a former member of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), refused to testify in 2007 at the first trial of Mr. Haradinaj, KLA commander during its conflict with Serb forces in 1998-99. He will be detained on remand until further order.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), sitting in The Hague, Netherlands, 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 ICTY appeals judges partially quashed the acquittal last year, ruling that a re-trial was necessary 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.

In a statement today, the tribunal said Mr. Kabashi’s testimony was relevant to the re-trial 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 for crimes committed at the KLA headquarters and the prison in Jablanica/Jabllanicë.


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