KLA war crimes court "will change Kosovo's political scene"

A war crimes court that will deal with the crimes committed in Kosovo by the KLA ("Kosovo Liberation Army") will start its work in the first half of next year.

Source: B92, Tanjug
Pristina (Tanjug, file)
Pristina (Tanjug, file)

Special Prosecutor David Schwendiman did not wish to speculate about the number of indictments, nor about when they will be raised.

Analysts and experts from Kosovo believe that the court's rulings will lead to changes in Kosovo's political scene.

Former Council of Europe rapporteur Dick Marty did not investigate, write, and warn in vain. Five years after his report about the crimes committed against kidnapped Serbs in Kosovo and in Albania, and about, among other things, the human organ trade, The Hague is preparing new courtrooms for KLA crimes.

Specialized chambers should start working in the first half of next year, while currently the process of selecting the judges is under way.

Schwendiman, an American, will be the new court's chief prosecutor. His predecessor and compatriot Clint Williamson confirmed before leaving office that he found evidence for some of the claims made in Marty's report. In his first address to the media on Thursday, Schwendiman said he would work impartially and without fear.

But he was not prepared to speculate about the number of indictments, nor when they may be raised.

"There is more to do, more to come, before everything is in place that will allow me to make formal charging decisions. I will do what the evidence and the law compel me to do, when we are ready - not a minute before, not a minute later. I am obligated as well to protect witnesses and to keep confidential and secure all information that should be protected to ensure that witnesses who give evidence are not intimidated, or harmed or threatened," he said.

Members of the legal profession in Kosovo agree that the new court will not present itself in a good light if its rulings circumvent the current political scene.

Prosecutor Nenad Trifunovic believes that "someone will have to end up in jail, if serious money is given for western conditions," and adds:

"The court will have to justify its activity with a guilty verdict. I don't want to speculate, but it will certainly be someone from the Kosovo political establishment."

Kosovo analyst Nexhmedin Spahiu, meanwhile, "expects changes in the Kosovo political scene."

"I expect some of the actors that have been there for two decades to leave the scene," he said.

Political representatives of Serbs in Kosovo expect "professional approach, without anyone being privileged." They also hope that "the mistakes of the Hague Tribunal (ICTY)" will not be repeated.

"And for that reason I expect this court to use all mechanisms to protect the witness and ensure their safety, and prosecute all those for whom there are serious indications that they committed war crimes before during, and after the conflict," said Slavko Smilic, president of the Serb (Srpska) List.

Another message from the special court for KLA crimes has been that no one should doubt this is a very serious undertaking - and that "haste is not a friend of justice, but neither are unnecessary delays."

Crime

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