Kosovo demands investigation into former UN prosecutor

[JURIST] Kosovo authorities called Sunday for an investigation into the work of former UN chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte [BBC profile] for her role in bringing war crimes charges against former Kosovo prime minister and Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) commander Ramush Haradinaj [ICTY materials; BBC profile]. Del Ponte, a Swiss lawyer, worked at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] from 1999-2008. Haradinaj, a Kosovo Albanian former guerrilla commander, was acquitted [JURIST report] on crimes against humanity for the second time on Thursday in a retrial at the ICTY. The ICTY judges ruled "that there was insufficient evidence to establish the existence of a joint criminal enterprise in relation to the commission of crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war" by Haradinaj during the 1998-99 Kosovo war with Serbia [JURIST news archive]. Kosovo's government issued a statement [Reuters report] claiming the charges were unfounded and accused del Ponte of abusing her power in bringing charges against Haradinaj. The Kosovo government believes del Ponte's actions were criminal and urged the secretary general of the tribunal, the UN and other international authorities to investigate her work. All but one of the Kosovo Albanians that were charged with war crimes during the Kosovo war have had their convictions overturned. Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci [official website] released a statement [press release] after the ruling calling it "just" and "the best proof that the Kosovo Liberation Army engaged in a just war for freedom and did not commit the crimes for which we have been unfairly accused."

Haradinaj's retrial began [JURIST report] in August 2011. The appeals chamber of the ICTY reversed [JURIST report] the acquittal in July 2010 and ordered a retrial for Haradinaj after finding the integrity of the original proceedings was compromised and the Trial Chamber failed to take sufficient steps to counter witness intimidation that permeated the trial. Haradinaj was first acquitted [JURIST report] in 2008 when the Trial Chamber found insufficient evidence to establish a criminal enterprise. Del Ponte originally brought charges against Haradinaj and two KLA fighters in 2005 for 37 counts of war crimes [JURIST report] including murder, persecution and rape. Del Ponte condemned many politicians of the former Yugoslavia, including Haradinaj, in her book "The Hunt: Me and War Criminals" that the Swiss government barred [JURIST report] her from publicly promoting.

 

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