Haradinaj: much a retrial for nothing?
The primary purpose of the retrial of Ramush Haradinaj, as proclaimed by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in its appeal judgement in July, should have been to hear testimonies of two "key" witnesses who proved unwilling to testify in the original trial in 2007. Almost four months into the retrial which started in mid-August, its stated aim has not yet been achieved.
Because neither of the two witnesses actually gave evidence during the prosecution phase, which was adjourned on 25 November. This was to allow the prosecution time until 13 February to bring in its last unwilling witness before the end of the trial, expected in February. In his opening statement, Haradinaj's defence counsel Ben Emmerson even called the retrial "shoddy" in advance.
"Here we are once again predictably enough in exactly the same position all over again". Haradinaj is former leader of the ethnic Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) which was fighting a war for Kosovo's independence against Serbian security forces in 1998. He is accused - together with his subordinates Idriz Bala and Lahi Brahimaj - of crimes against Roma, Albanian and Serb civilians at the KLA's detention center in Jablanica in western Kosovo, including killings and torture. At the end of the original trial in 2008, the court acquitted Haradinaj and Bala of 37 war crimes charges and sentenced Brahimaj to six years in prison.