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Revised Indictment in Haradinaj Case
New version focuses specifically on alleged crimes at the Jablanica headquarters
of the Kosovo Liberation Army.
By Rachel Irwin - International Justice - ICTY
TRI Issue 667,
29 Oct 10
Prosecutors filed a revised and shortened indictment this week for the upcoming
partial retrial of ex-Kosovo president Ramush Haradinaj and his two co-defendant
s, Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj.
In late July of this year, appeals judges ruled that Haradinaj, Brahimaj and Bal
aj should face a partial retrial on six counts of murder, cruel treatment and to
rture allegedly committed against Serb civilians and perceived collaborators dur
ing the late 1990s conflict in Kosovo.
The new version of the indictment focuses specifically on these six counts, whic
h concern alleged crimes at the Jablanica headquarters of the Kosovo Liberation
Army, KLA, of which Haradinaj was the commander.
According to one incident detailed in the revised indictment, a Serbian man and
two “Roma/Egyptians” were arrested by KLA soldiers on May 19, 1998 and detained at t
he Jablanica headquarters. While there, KLA member Balaj allegedly cut off the S
erb man’s ear in the presence of Haradinaj.
Afterwards, Brahimaj allegedly ordered the execution of all three men, also in t
he presence of Haradinaj. Balaj and a group of KLA soldiers then allegedly took
the men away. “They were killed while in KLA custody,” reads the indictment. “Their bo
dies have not been recovered.”
During that same month, Brahimaj is alleged to have ordered the execution of two
Roma/Egyptian men who were suspected of being Serbian collaborators.
In June 1998, the indictment states that a Catholic Kosovar Albanian, referred t
o as “Witness 6”, was detained at the Jablanica facility, where Brahimaj and other s
oldiers used baseball bats to beat him into “almost unconsciousness”.
The remaining counts of the revised indictment detail several other instances wh
ere Serb civilians or perceived collaborators were allegedly beaten, tortured an
d/or killed by KLA soldiers at the Jablanica headquarters.
Haradinaj was initially acquitted in 2008 of all 37 counts against him. Balaj wa
s also acquitted at that time, while Brahimaj was found guilty of cruel treatmen
t and torture and sentenced to six years in prison.
However, prosecutors appealed against the acquittals, claiming that the trial ha
d been “infected” by witness intimidation. As a result, they said they were unable t
o secure the testimony of two key witnesses, one of whom, Shefqet Kabashi, still
has a contempt case pending against him.
Appeals judges subsequently ruled that all three accused should face a partial r
etrial on the six counts of murder, cruel treatment and torture.
They said that the trial judges “failed to appreciate the gravity of the threat of
witness intimidation posed to the trial’s integrity” and placed too much emphasis “on
ensuring that the prosecution took no more than its pre-allotted time to presen
t its case…irrespective of the possibility of securing potentially important testi
mony”.
The date for the partial retrial has not been set.
Rachel Irwin is an IWPR reporter in The Hague.