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Haradinaj Witnesses Acquitted of Contempt

Prosecution has long complained of witness intimidation leading to witnesses refusing to testify.
Two witnesses charged with contempt for refusing to testify against former Kosovo prime minister Ramush Haradinaj have been acquitted after agreeing to give evidence.

Avni Krasniqi was arrested on November 9, after being charged with “knowingly and willfully interfered with the administration of justice by failing to comply with an order to appear before the trial chamber in the Haradinaj case”.

Just four days later, another Kosovo Albanian, Sadri Selca, was arrested on the same charge, after refusing to testify as a prosecution witness in the Haradinaj trial.

At first, Krasniqi refused to enter a plea on the contempt charge. When tribunal judges ordered that he remain in prison for a while, he changed his mind and decided to testify after all. He began giving evidence on November 14.

Following a brief spell in the tribunal’s prison, Sadri Selca also agreed to testify against Haradinaj.

In return, the judges acquitted both witnesses of contempt of court charges and released them from custody.

The first witness to be charged with contempt in this case, Shefqet Kabashi, refused to testify while taking the oath before his testimony during the trial in June this year.

Throughout the Haradinaj trial, which began at the Hague tribunal in March this year, the prosecution has complained of witness intimidation leading to witnesses refusing to testify.

Prosecutors, who are expected to finish presenting their evidence in the next few weeks, have filed numerous applications for witness subpoenas and trial-related protective measures during the case.

Ramush Haradinaj, who was a senior officer of the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, during the 1998-99 conflict in Kosovo with Serb forces, surrendered to the tribunal two and a half years ago. He was granted pre-trial provisional release from June 2005 to February 2007.

Haradinaj served as prime minister of Kosovo after the conflict and resigned shortly after the indictment against him was issued.

He stands trial with Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj, who were allegedly co-perpetrators in a joint criminal enterprise, the purpose of which was “the consolidation of total control of the KLA operational zone of Dukagjin, by attacking and persecuting certain sections of the civilian population there, namely the unlawful removal of Serb civilians from that area, and the forcible, violent suppression of any real or perceived form of collaboration with the Serbs by Albanian or Roma civilians”, said the indictment.

Merdijana Sadovic is IWPR’s Hague tribunal programme manager.

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