Priština advised to establish war crimes court

PRIŠTINA -- EU representative in Priština Samuel Žbogar says the creation of a special court to deal with crimes committed against Serbs in Kosovo was "inevitable."

He for this reason advised members of the Kosovo assembly to vote in favor of its establishment.

"I strongly believe that deputies in the Kosovo assembly will press the 'Yes' button, and will realize that this question cannot be avoided by pressing either 'Yes' or 'No'. But, by saying 'Yes', Kosovo will take the process into its own hands, Kosovo will itself seek to shed light on this issue," he said.

Žbogar told the Albanian language daily Koha Ditore said that "otherwise this tribunal will be established by the Security Council, and then the judicial process would be completely under the control of the United Nations."

According to him, the EU understands that it is difficult for Kosovo to examine the issue of establishing a special court for possible charges stemming from a report prepared by Council of Europe rapporteur Dick Marty - which contains allegations that the ethnic Albanian KLA kidnapped Serb and other civilians, illegally imprisoned them, and had their body parts removed and sold in the black market.

"But the establishment of such a tribunal is now inevitable and the choice is between Kosovo doing it with the approval of the European Union, or Kosovo refusing and the UN Security Council doing it, as a Special Tribunal of the United Nations," Žbogar was quoted as saying.

According to him, the option in which the tribunal is established with the approval of "Kosovars" would be far better for Kosovo itself, as the court would be within the Kosovo system, "with a part of it in an EU country," and with international judges that would, in the next few years, "conclude that issue."

The second option, the formation of a UN tribunal, would involve a process that could be "endlessly protracted," warned this official.

According to Žbogar, it is essential that the tribunal be established to treat individual cases, and that it would "in no way be directed either against Kosovo or against the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA)."