Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Tribunal to Tackle Kosovo Albanians

Chief prosecutor says two unnamed KLA commanders to be indicted.
By Chris Stephen

Two senior Kosovo Albanian guerrilla commanders are expected to be indicted for war crimes by the Hague tribunal in coming months.

One commander from the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, the force that fought the Serbian military in 1998-99, may be indicted before the end of December, and a second some time next year.

The announcement was made by Serbian justice minister Vladan Batic at a joint press conference with Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte on September 24. He said that in discussions with her, she had told him that two commanders were now being investigated.

"She is currently considering investigations against two KLA leaders, and expects one of them to be finalised by the end of the year," he said.

Del Ponte refused to identify either suspects, "We are not discussing the name of the accused."

The announcement is bound to send a frisson through the Albanian political establishment in Kosovo - many of whom are former KLA members - as they speculate about who is likely to be indicted.

So far most war crimes indictments for Kosovo have targeted Serbs, most notably the genocide indictment against Slobodan Milosevic. Serbia has long demanded that indictments for atrocities should made against KLA commanders.

Four former KLA men have been charged with war crimes by the Hague court for abuses committed at a prison camp during the conflict.

Batic told journalists he had handed Del Ponte fresh evidence against KLA units, gathered by the intelligence services of Serbia-Montenegro.

This may herald a breakthrough for prosecutors, who have complained in the past that investigations into Kosovo war crimes were hampered because Belgrade opposed the tribunal and refused to hand over evidence.

Chris Stephen is IWPR's tribunal project manager.

More IWPR's Global Voices