From: Exit Staff
First Hearing for the Head of KLA Veterans Association, Suspected of Obstruction of Justice

Hysni Gucati, the head of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) veterans association (OVL) had his first appearance before the war crimes court in The Hague on Thursday.

He was arrested on 25 September in Pristina by the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office (SPO) officers, pursuant to an arrest warrant and transfer order issued by a judge of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC).

According to the arrest warrant he is suspected of intimidation of witnesses, retaliation and violation of secrecy of proceedings.

The arrest was preceded by OVL’s announcements in three separate occasions (here, here, and here) of having anonymously received investigation files leaked from the KSC-SPO in The Hague.

The OVL leaders had accused the war crimes court of bias, and of having collaborated with Serbia in their investigations.

In today’s hearing, the prosecution said they will file charges against Gucati within 30 days. His defense demanded he be released on parole. A judge is expected to decide on the matter.

Gucati’s deputy, Nasim Haradinaj was also arrested and transferred to The Hague on the same day and for the same charges.

In his first hearing on Tuesday, Haradinaj refused to acknowledge the court’s authority.

Their arrests came only one day after the SPO officers arrested the first suspect for war crimes, former KLA member Salif Mustafa. He is charged with war crimes for alleged arbitrary detention, cruel treatment, and torture of six people, and for his responsibility in the murder of one person, who was found dead in a detention compound, according to the indictment published last Thursday.

Since its establishment in 2015 by the Kosovo parliament to investigate potential war crimes by former KLA members, the court has charged only one person, Salih Mustafa. Haradinaj and Gucati are suspected of obstruction of justice.