Kosovo’s former Speaker of Parliament and the former spokesperson of Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), Jakup Krasniqi objected the Specialist Prosecutor, Jack Smith, when talking about war victims and witnesses on the trial against him other KLA leaders.
Krasniqi made the argument during the third status conference on the case against him and former KLA leaders Hashim Thaci, Kadri Veseli and Rexhep Selimi on Tuesday in The Hague based Specialist Chambers.
“I would plea the prosecutor that if he were to speak on behalf of anyone, or if he were to speak on behalf of the alleged crimes happening in Kosovo, it would be best for him to be defender of the policies of crimes and genocide that were implanted by the Serbian regime against my people from 1986 of the XIX century,” Krasniqi said.
“Therefore I would plea to the prosecutor not to speak on behalf of my people, not to speak on behalf my nation, not to speak on behalf of the sacrifices of my people, because the people that are best to do that are us, the representatives of those people, not those that condemn our liberation army,” he added.
The reaction came after the Specialist Prosecutor, Jack Smith pointed at the reasons why the trial against KLA leaders should begin soon. He said that it is important to give the defense the time and resources they need to prepare for this trial.
“But this court has other considerations to consider in setting a trial date, one is the victims on this case and the witnesses on this case who have waited years for justice. A second is the reality that has not been mentioned today, that witness intimidation and obstruction of witnesses is a reality of this case, and will be a reality going forward,” he added.
He argued that if there is a large gap between the entire disclosure of the case and the trial, that will endanger witnesses.
The counsel for Kadri Veseli, Ben Emmerson said that the way the disclosure was being conducted is the “most unhelpful way” possible for enabling the defense to begin an effective investigation.
He added that the prosecution is not clear about what its case is.
“The evidence so far disclosed against him (Kadri Veseli) is almost nonexistent, there is almost no mention of him in the evidence, there is no mention at all of him committing any criminal activity. So this is a case built out of tissue in an attempt to try to erect a joint criminal enterprise at the multiplicity of different events that the prosecution are trying to link together,” Emmerson said.
He added that the Prosecution does not have any direct evidence disclosed at all against any particular individual accused.
The counsel for Hashim Thaci, David Hooper said that of the disclosure systems that they have been subject to in similar courts and tribunals, this system was the least helpful.
“There is 124 witnesses that I think that are being disclosed. There is no summary provided […] no witnesses actually disclosed with an accompanying bundle of exhibits. I would have thought that was elementary […] There is a lack of detail in respect of the chart, lack of detail that the SPO want to maintain,” Hooper said.
Former President of Kosovo, 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 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.