The Specialist Prosecutor’s Office requested for the trial against four senior figures of Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), Hashim Thaci, Kadri Veseli, Rexhep Selimi and Jakup Krasniqi to start by the summer 2021, but was strongly opposed by the defense.
The lawyer of Kosovo’s former President Hashim Thaci, David Hooper said that he sees the prosecutor’s suggestion as “absolutely absurd”.
“This is a complicated case and I cannot see this case taking place any time before summer, not the next year but the year after that,” Hopper told the pre- trial judge Nicolas Guillou at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers court.
Ben Emmerson, Veseli’s lawyer said that the defense will need detailed investigation which requires at least 18 months, after the maximum de- redaction is completed.
“To hear the prosecutor counsel stand up and say that the defense know the case against them even though it is very substantially redacted and don’t really need an investigation, is a shocking submission,” Emmerson told court.
While Selimi’s lawyer David Young called the timeline suggestion by the prosecutor as “breathtakingly disappointed” stating that the submissions have no regard of whatsoever to an accused right to fair trial.
“Prosecutions may have had five years, ten years to investigate this, but I arrived here last week […] it is ridiculous,” Young said.
Prosecution notified the court that they will be seeking protective measures for a number of witnesses and victims identified in the supporting materials.
The SPO indictment’s supporting material consists of approximately 1842 items, including the evidences of 153 witnesses some in the form of statements and some in the form of transcripts.
Former Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci, former Parliament Speaker Kadri Veseli, former Parliament Speaker Jakup Krasniqi and the former MP Rexhep Selimi are indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Four of them were members of the KLA Headquarters holding high leading positions during the war.
The charges against them consist of six counts of crimes against humanity, namely: persecution, imprisonment, other inhumane acts, torture, murder and enforced disappearance of persons. And four counts of war crimes, namely: arbitrary detention, cruel treatment, torture and murder.
The prosecution describes the accused as members of a “joint criminal enterprise” sharing the common purpose to gain and exercise control over Kosovo.
During his remarks, Emmerson said that “the only Joint Enterprise that was within the Kosovo Liberation Army was a joint enterprise to defend the civilian population against the crimes being perpetrated by the SFRY (The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia)”.
He added that there were crimes by certain individuals on the KLA side, but those crimes were individual and on a minor scale “in comparison with the industrial scale systematic slaughter that was inflected on the ethnic Albanians by the SFRY”.