19 September 2007

Ramush Haradinaj has eliminated the majority of witnesses

Radio KIM, Caglavica, February 25, 2007

The majority of witnesses in the court case against Ramush Haradinaj being conducted before the Hague tribunal have changed their mind or decided not to give testimony, Radio KIM and Glas Juga have learned.

The Tribunal's prosecutor's office had a relevant number of witnesses at its disposal until the moment when it became clear that Ramush Haradinaj would return to Pristina and defend himself while at liberty, that is, be allowed to take part in political and public life. Despite the fact that UNMIK claimed that Haradinaj was not a danger to witnesses and their testimony, the number of those willing to appear in the courtroom is negligible. This applies especially to witnesses of crimes, and pressure is being put on families involved in this case which have been transferred from Kosovo.

A characteristic example is that of the family of Skender Kuci, who was abducted and killed by the Kosovo Liberation Army in the Pec area. The members of his family have changed their statements and do not wish to testify. They are rejecting cooperation with the Tribunal with the explanation that Skender was killed by Serbs.

Ramush Haradinaj's defense has in the recent past visited the majority of witnesses prepared to speak against him in The Hague. It is the opinion of some attorneys close to the Tribunal that this has resulted in compromising the families of the victims, which today are no longer willing to testify.

Some of the witnesses have in the recent past died a natural death, while others, such as Tahir Zemaj, have been murdered. Recently Kujtim Berisha died recently in a traffic accident in Podgorica. Some potential witnesses have, in the meanwhile, received large sums of money, switched sides and become members and officials of [Haradinaj's] Alliance for the Future of Kosovo.

UNMIK's protection of these witnesses has demonstrated the inability of this institution in instances not relating to The Hague, too. Hasan Rrustemi, an UNMIK protected witness, was murdered at the farmer's market in Mala Krusa near Prizren with the message that all those working against the KLA would fare similarly.

The Hague Tribunal and its prosecutor Carla del Ponte have stated that they know that Haradinaj is influencing witnesses but UNMIK could not successfully limit the authority and activities of the former Kosovo Liberation Army commander for the Dukadjini region.