From: Bledar Qalliu
Majority Set to Investigate Charges for War Crimes Allegedly Committed in Albania during Kosovo War

The ruling majority has asked the Albanian parliament to investigate the charges against some former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) leaders for war crimes allegedly committed in Albanian territory during the Kosovo war, 1998-1999.

On Wednesday, the Socialists’ leader in parliament, Taulant Balla confirmed reports that he is drafting a request for the parliament to set up a committee to report on the charges raised by The Hague-based prosecutors against former Kosovo president, two former speakers of parliament and an MP, all of them former senior KLA members.

The charges maintain that they committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in prisons set up in northern Albania.

These allegations were first made in a Council of Europe report drafted by Dick Marty and endorsed in 2011. 

The Socialists’ request for an investigation comes nine years later, in the seventh year of their rule, amidst the newly started trial against Kosovo leaders, and a few months ahead of general elections in Albania.

Balla told journalists on Wednesday that the parliamentary committee will prepare a report “to clarify all accusations involving the KLA role in the Albanian territory”. The report may be turned into a resolution of the Albanian parliament.

While acknowledging that this move “should have probably been done a long time ago”, Balla said that Albanians “must leave daily political disagreements aside because today is the day to take on our responsibilities.”

He then lashed out at the opposition leader Lulzim Basha, accusing him of having been “an expert, an investigator against Kosovo’s liberation war”. Balla called on Basha to answer in public and in the court, and repent for his past.

According to public information, Basha worked as an operations officer for the Tirana Office of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in 1999, and then as a legal consultant for the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) from 2000 to 2004.

Balla specifically accused the opposition leader of having been delivered by its author Milaim Bellanica the only video recording of the Krushe e Madhe massacre, when Basha was working for UNMIK. The Socialist leader accused Basha of having kept the videotape away from the investigations and the public.

Serbian troops massacred 241 people in the Kosovo village in three days during March 1999.

“I personally had acquaintances who lost their lives in the massacre,” Balla said, adding that the videotape recordings are “an important evidence” showing that the war crimes in Kosovo were perpetrated by Serbs, not by Albanians.

In recent days, the opposition leader has embarked on a campaign to denounce the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, while also presenting part of the opposition’s electoral program.

Prime Minister Edi Rama and other Socialist leaders have responded with repeated scathing accusations suggesting Basha has influenced the investigations and the charges against KLA leaders.

For about a week now, Basha has refused to reply to Rama and other Socialists’ growing multiple daily accusations regarding his alleged work against Kosovo people and war for freedom. Basha has instead continued to denounce Rama’s alleged failure in facing the Covid-19 crisis.

Taulant Balla told journalists on Wednesday that the parliamentary committee that will be set up soon to investigate the KLA activity in Albania will not deal with their accusations against the opposition leader.