The Hague-based Specialist Prosecutor Office (SPO) insists that the trial against the leaders of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) to begin in September.
“The SPO has outlined, here and previously, the proactive and rigorous approach it has adopted towards disclosure, one that will allow the trial to commence in September 2021, SPO says in its submission filed on Tuesday.
It reads that this demanding regime is being undertaken in the interest of fulfilling the statutory obligations of a fair and expeditious trial date.
Such proposal was made before the pre-trial judge, Nicolas Guillou but was strongly opposed by the defense, who called it “absolutely absurd”.
The defense claims that SPO’s suggestion for the trial against Hashim Thaci, Kadri Veseli, Rexhep Selimi, and Jakup Krasniqi to start in September, would lead to an unfair trial.
“The schedule outlined allows for many months of defense preparation and pre-trial investigation on a clearly defined case, while recognizing the fundamental interests of victims and witnesses, and of justice, in reducing the risks of interference and intimidation inherent in a protracted pre-trial period,” SPO wrote.
To reason its request, SPO takes for example war crimes trials at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) against the former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, former President of Republica Srkpsa in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Radovan Karadzic, and the Bosnian Serb colonel-general Ratko Mladic.
SPO points out that each of these cases was two or three times larger and more complex than the instant case.
“Assuming that the Karadzic and Mladic cases were approximately three times larger, the equivalent period from initial appearance to trial, in this case, would range from 6-8 months; if we consider those cases only twice the complexity and scale, a period of 8-12 months, in this case, would be the equivalent,” SPO wrote.
Former Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci, former Parliament Speaker Kadri Veseli, former Parliament Speaker Jakup Krasniqi, and former MP Rexhep Selimi are indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Four of them were members of the KLA and held high-level 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.
Thaci, Veseli, Selimi, and Krasniqi will appear before the court on Thursday.