Kosovo Specialist Chambers

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KLA memorial in Mitrovica, Kosovo (Photo: Joost van Egmond)
15 September 2016 by Stephanie van den Berg, The Hague (The Netherlands)

In their first ever press conference since taking office the registrar and the prosecutor of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers, a special court set up in the Hague to try crimes allegedly committed by Kosovo Albanian guerilla fighters during and after the 1998-99 conflict were at pains to stress their independence and avoided giving a clear time table for when to expect indictments.

Specialist Prosecutor David Schwendiman, a former international prosecutor in the Bosnian state court's war crimes department, insisted he would do his job “without fear or favour” and would base decision “solely on the facts” regardless of “political, diplomatic or other implications or consequences”. The court is controversial in Kosovo where many see the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) as freedom fighters who fought a just war against Belgrade's oppressive regime in the then Serb province. Pristina feels unfairly singled out for an extra court after already having several KLA commanders on trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), where all but one were acquitted [IJT-164].