From: Die Morina van Uijtregt
KLA Leaders’ Defense Complain on Prosecution Work amid COVID-19 Obstacles

The Hague-based Specialist Prosecutor’s Office (SPO) told the court on Wednesday that they will not be able to provide the pre-trial brief on the case against former leaders of Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) before the second week of September.

This timeline was considered as very late by the defense which still needs to work on its investigation.

Former Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci, former Parliament Speakers Kadri Veseli and Jakup Krasniqi, and former MP Rexhep Selimi are indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The four of them were members of the KLA and held high-level positions during the war.

The lawyer of Kadri Veseli, Ben Emmerson said that the Prosecution needs by mid-June at the latest, to say what the case is against the accused “in a form of a detailed pre-trial brief”.

“The Prosecution continues to maintain that it wishes only to file its pre- trial brief at the last possible moment before the trial begins. As soon as we have that, sooner we will know what the case is,” Emmerson said.

Rexhep Selimis’s lawyer, David Young said that the prosecution had five years for its investigation and they should know by now what their case is.

“To delay pre-trial brief until September this year is unacceptable,” said Young.

The defense criticized Prosecution on the disclosure process.

Thaci’s lawyer, David Hooper said that they need to have the complete files, “for example witness A, the whole package of materials related to that witness”.

“We suggested that we have a preliminary list of witnesses. The Prosecution must have some idea of the witnesses they’re likely to call and it would be helpful if we have that list,” Hooper said.

The defense also mentioned COVID-19 pandemic as an obstacle to their investigation.

Thaçi’s and Krasniqi’s defense also requested that the prosecution provide audio-visual materials of the interviewed witnesses. Such request was made claiming that there may have been ommissions in the translation of the testimonies.

But, through an oral order, this request was rejected by the pre-trial Judge Nicolas Guillou, arguing that the interview transcripts are sufficient for the defense to see if there were any omissions during the translation of the witness testimonies.

The charges against Thaci, Veseli, Selimi and Krasniqi 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.