Key Kosovo witness at UN war crimes trial pleads guilty to contempt of court

26 August 2011

A key witness today pleaded guilty to contempt of court for refusing to testify in the trial at a United Nations war crimes tribunal of former Kosovo prime minister Ramush Haradinaj on charges of crimes against humanity.

A key witness today pleaded guilty to contempt of court for refusing to testify in the trial at a United Nations war crimes tribunal 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 entered his plea at a session of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague, Netherlands, after being handed over to the court earlier this month by Dutch authorities.

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

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.