Haradinaj retrial: over before it's begun?

31 August 2011 by Rodasa Milutinovic

The prosecution case in the retrial of former Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) got off to a rocky start, hours into the proceedings last week, after its key witness refused to testify.

Shefquet Kabashi - whose testimony was central to the retrial - not only repeatedly refused to answer the prosecutor's questions, but also cast doubt on the truth of his previous statements to the investigators. Those statements, he even suggested, were elicited by the investigators “who draw your blood slowly [through a] straw”.

Haradinaj was the 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 and his subordinates Idriz Bala and Lahi Brahimaj are accused of crimes against Roma, Albanian and Serb civilians at the KLA's detention center in Jablanica in western Kosovo.

No prison?
Kabashi was a KLA prison guard at Jablanica. The ICTY said, "his  testimony  relates to the defendants’ alleged  responsibility for crimes committed at the KLA headquarters and the prison in Jablanica”.

Kabashi has, however, denied even the existence of a prison and prisoners in Jablanica, despite his own earlier signed statements to the contrary.

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