ICTY sentences uncooperative witness in retrial of former Kosovo PM

[JURIST] The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] on Friday sentenced a man for contempt of court [judgment, PDF] for refusing to testify. The man, Shefqet Kabashi, was sentenced to two months in jail [press release] for refusing on two occasions to answer questions during the 2007 trial related to the 1998-1999 war in Kosovo [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. Kabashi pleaded guilty in August to charges that he "knowingly and willfully interfered with the Tribunal's administration of justice" by refusing to answer questions as a witness against former Kosovo prime minister Ramush Haradinaj [BBC profile]. During sentencing, Judge Alphons Orie chided Kabashi for withholding what could have been important testimony, saying "By contumaciously refusing or failing to answer questions as a witness, Mr Kabashi deprived the Haradinaj et al. Trial Chamber of evidence relevant for an effective ascertainment of truth in the adjudication of that case." Both sides have the right to appeal, but it is not immediately clear whether either will do so.

Haradinaj was acquitted [JURIST report] by the ICTY in 2008 of charges murder, rape, torture, abduction, cruel treatment, imprisonment and the forced deportation of civilians allegedly in connection with his position as a senior commander in the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) [GlobalSecurity backgrounder]. An appeals court later overturned the acquittal [JURIST report], resulting in a new trial. The re-trial of Haradinaj [JURIST report] began in mid-August. In September, the European Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) [official website] charged 10 former members of the KLA with war crimes [JURIST report] for their actions during the war in Kosovo. Those individuals were previously arrested in March [JURIST report]. EULEX has been investigating war crimes [JURIST report] since December 2008. Kosovo controversially seceded from Serbia [JURIST report] in February 2008.

 

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