"No conclusions, but truth’s onward march continues"
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Anne Brasseur has welcomed a report by special prosecutor John Clint Williamson.Source: Tanjug
It concerned an investigation into the 1999 Kosovo organ trafficking case.
Brasseur expressed her satisfaction that “truth’s onward march continues also in this case.”
“Although no final conclusions have as yet been presented, SITF (the EU Special Investigative Task Force) has found compelling evidence to file indictments against certain former senior officials of the (paramilitary organization called) Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) with respect to major human rights violations, findings that are largely based on and consistent with Dick Marty’s report presented to the Parliamentary Assembly in 2011”, Anne Brasseur said.
In its resolution on the subject, which was adopted the same year, the PACE “emphasized that there cannot be one justice for the ‘winners’ and another for the ‘losers’,” pointing to the resolution's stating that “whenever a conflict has occurred, all criminals must be prosecuted and held responsible for their illegal acts, whichever side they belonged to and irrespective of their political role.”
Saying that it is reassuring to her “that the SITF is characterized by a high level of professionalism,” she also noted with satisfaction that “the EU is giving the necessary support to combat organized crime uncompromisingly to ensure that justice is done, without any considerations of political expediency.”
“I note, with regret the existence, in certain quarters, of a climate of witness intimidation and I call on the authorities of Serbia, Albania and the Kosovo administration to co-operate unreservedly with ongoing investigations”, the PACE president concluded.
Williamson told a press conference in Brussels yesterday that the SITF had collected ample evidence of the ethnic Albanian KLA committing war crimes and crimes against humanity and conducting a systematic ethnic cleansing campaign targeting primarily Kosovo Serbs and Roma, and announced filing an indictment against several KLA officials.
He said, however, that the investigative team had not found enough evidence for a trial over the extraction of body organs from Serb captives during the 1998-99 war, but there were strong indications that at least 10 victims were subjected to the crime.
The families of the victims of crimes committed in Kosovo have been waiting for justice and the truth about the fates of their loved ones for too long, says Michael Montgomery, a U.S. journalist who discovered the "Yellow House" in Albania, identified in a report by Council of Europe special rapporteur Dick Marty as the site of an organ harvesting operation whose victims were kidnapped Kosovo Serbs.
Clint Williamson is a serious prosecutor, and he has conducted a serious investigation, Montgomery told Tanjug, commenting on a report following a three-year investigation into Marty's allegations, unveiled by the EULEX special prosecutor in Brussels on Tuesday.
However, the results of the investigation revealed nothing essentially new, Montgomery said.
UNMIK has been aware of the organ harvesting accusations since as early as 2003 but never conducted a serious investigation into them, while EULEX had not dealt with the matter before the establishment of Williamson's team in 2011, the journalist said.
Information about secret camps in Albania where members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) held kidnapped civilians has been published in reports by many media and human rights organizations a long time ago, Montgomery added.
Reporting for Britain's Daily Telegraph with his colleague Steven Smith, Montgomery investigated war crimes committed in Kosovo-Metohija after the conflict there ended in 1999.
Montgomery was the first to draw the "Yellow House", located in Burrel, central Albania, to the attention of investigators from the United Nations and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
The families of the victims have been waiting for justice and the truth for too long, Montgomery told Tanjug, adding that a trial based on the results of Williamson's investigation will be a great challenge for international justice.
Williamson said on Tuesday that he gathered a large amount of evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the KLA - a paramilitary formation of ethnic Albanians - as well as a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing conducted in 1999 and 2000 against Kosovo's Serbs and Roma, and announced indictments against several senior officers of the KLA.
However, he said that the investigating team did not find sufficient strong evidence that would warrant an indictment for the war crime of human organ harvesting, but added that there are compelling indications that over 10 people were victims of this crime.
Williamson's team definitely encountered many obstacles that we ourselves had encountered, said Montgomery, who faced threats and instances of witness intimidation during his journalistic investigation of crimes committed by the KLA.
How can you prove a crime that took place 15 years ago without knowing the names of the victims or the perpetrators, or without serious material evidence, Montgomery asked, noting that the international community reacted too late.
Montgomery, who now works for the United States' National Public Radio in San Francisco, said that reports of organ trafficking - which accounts for just a fraction of crimes committed against civilians after the Kosovo war - have distracted public attention from a great number of "ordinary" cases of kidnapping, torture and murder committed by the KLA.
The motive behind our investigation, which remains open to this day, are the fates of the hundreds of people who went missing after NATO and UN troops entered Kosovo, Montgomery said, noting that representatives of the international community ignored KLA crimes for years.