Former Kosovo PM must be retried: ICTY

13:51, July 22, 2010      

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The Appeals Chambers of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) partially quashed the acquittals of the former Kosovo's Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj and other two former Kosovo Liberation Army comrades, ordered a partial retrial on Wednesday.

It is the first retrial in the tribunal's 17-year history.

In a statement, the ICTY said the indictment alleged that the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) persecuted and abducted civilians who were perceived to be collaborating with Serbian forces in the Dukagjin area in 1998 and that Haradinaj, with other KLA members Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj were responsible for crimes through a joint criminal enterprise, the common purpose of which was to consolidate total KLA control of the Dukagjin area through the unlawful removal and mistreatment of these civilians.

In April 2008, the Trial Chamber held that the Prosecution had presented insufficient evidence to establish criminal liability for Haradinaj and Balaj, and acquitted them of all charges. The Trial Chamber found Brahimaj guilty of one count of torture and another count of torture and cruel human treatment in a violation of the laws or customs of war, and sentenced him to six years' imprisonment. The Prosecution and Mr. Brahimaj both filed appeals against the Trial Judgment.

But that trial seemed to be marred by intimidation that left two prosecution witnesses too scared to testify. "The trial chamber failed to appreciate the gravity of the threat that witness intimidation posted to the trial's integrity," tribunal President Patrick Robinson said. "Given the potential importance of these witnesses to the prosecution's case, the error undermined the fairness of the proceedings and resulted in a miscarriage of justice."

Robinson ordered Haradinaj, Balaj and Brahimaj retried on six counts of the original indictment alleging murder, cruel treatment and torture of prisoners at a KLA headquarters and prison in the town of Jablanica.

Since its inception 17 years ago, the Tribunal has indicted 161 persons for war crimes committed on the territory of the former Yugoslavia. The proceedings against 124 individuals have been completed.

Source: Xinhua


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