ICTY begins retrial of former Kosovo PM Haradinaj

[JURIST] The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] on Thursday began the retrial of Ramush Haradinaj [materials; BBC profile], a Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) commander and the former prime minister of Kosovo, who was acquitted [JURIST report] of all charges in 2008. The ICTY appeals chamber overturned the acquittals [JURIST report] of Haradinaj, Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj in July 2010. The appeals chamber found that the integrity of the original proceedings was compromised due to the trial chamber's "[failure] to take sufficient steps to counter the witness intimidation that permeated the trial." After the acquittals, many Serbians believed that the ICTY was unfairly prosecuting Serbians and letting ethnic Albanians free. In preparation for the trial, witness and former KLA member Shefqet Kabashi was transferred to the ICTY to stand trial for contempt of court [press release] after refusing to answer questions during the initial proceeding. The ICTY says his testimony is critical to proving six counts of the indictment.

In May 2008, ICTY Chief Prosecutor Serge Brammertz [official profile] filed an appeal against the acquittals [JURIST report]. Brammertz asked that the case be retried before a different chamber of the tribunal, arguing that prosecution was not allowed the to present enough witnesses. Haradinaj was charged with 37 counts of war crimes, including murder, persecution and rape, but the ICTY acquitted him of all charges in April 2008, citing a lack of evidence. Haradinaj was a senior commander in the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) [GlobalSecurity backgrounder], the ethnic Albanian guerrilla force that opposed Slobodan Milosevic [JURIST news archive] during the 1998-1999 Kosovo war [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive].

 

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