Kosovo Specialist Chambers to decide on first indictments in August - Gazeta Express

English

Gazeta Express

22/07/2020 17:40

Kosovo Specialist Chambers to decide on first indictments in August

English

Gazeta Express

22/07/2020 17:40

After five years of work and questioning of hundreds of people either as suspects or witnesses, in February 2020 the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office (SPO) announced filing of the first indictments with the Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC). The Hague based Specialist Chambers are mandate to prosecute and try alleged crimes committed by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).

The deadline of the KSC on whether to confirm or dismiss an indictment expires in August, considering that the pre-trial judge has a maximum of six months to review and decide on filed indictments by the specialist prosecutors.

The Kosovo Specialist Chambers told Gazeta Express that they cannot speculate on dates, however they said the pre-trial judge has six months to review the indictments. “The Pre-Trial Judge has, subject to the specificities of an individual case, a maximum of 6 months to review and decide on whether to confirm or dismiss an indictment. I cannot speculate on a date,” said Angela Griep, Head of Public Information and Communication Unit at the Specialist Chambers.

Griep has not commented on exact number of indictments which have already been submitted for confirmation, adding that if an indictment is confirmed it shall be made public no later than the Accused’s initial appearance before the Court. “I do not know how many charges are involved but according to the Rules of Procedure and Evidence if an indictment is confirmed it shall be made public no later than the Accused’s initial appearance before the Court,” she said.

“The notification in February was the request, required by law, by the Specialist Prosecutor to the President to assign a Pre-Trial Judge to review indictments. In any case as mentioned above if an indictment is confirmed it shall be made public no later than the Accused’s initial appearance before the Court,” Griep stated.

A pre-trial judge of the KSC has six months to decide on whether to confirm or dismiss the indictment filed against president Hashim Thaci and PDK leader Kadri Veseli and nine former members of the KLA. The Specialist Prosecutor’s Office on 24 June issued a statement announcing filing of an indictment against Thaci and Veseli. “As per the press statement issued by the Specialist Prosecutors Office on 24 June, the Specialist Prosecutor filed the indictment on 24 April 2020. The Pre-Trial Judge has, subject to the specificities of an individual case, a maximum of 6 months to decide on whether to confirm or dismiss an indictment,” Griep told Gazeta Express.

The SPO has summoned for questioning key figures of the KLA. A press release of the SPO issued on 24 June announced filing of an indictment against President Thaci, who during the war was political representative of the KLA, and Kadri Veseli, former senior commander of the KLA.

The SPO said that on 24 April 2020, its prosecutors filed a ten-count Indictment with the Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC) for the Court’s consideration, charging Hashim Thaçi, Kadri Veseli, and others with a range of crimes against humanity and war crimes. “The Indictment alleges that Hashim Thaçi, Kadri Veseli, and the other charged suspects are criminally responsible for nearly 100 murders. The crimes alleged in the Indictment involve hundreds of known victims of Kosovo Albanian, Serb, Roma, and other ethnicities and include political opponents. The Indictment is only an accusation. It is the result of a lengthy investigation and reflects the SPO’s determination that it can prove all of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. A KSC Pre-Trial Judge is currently reviewing the Indictment to decide on whether to confirm the charges,” The SPO said in a press release.

The SPO has summoned for questioning over 300 former KLA members, including most of the members of the KLA General Headquarters. The Kosovo Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s office were established in 2015 by the Parliament of Kosovo.  The Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office have jurisdiction over crimes against humanity, war crimes and other crimes under Kosovo law in relation to allegations reported in the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly Report of 7 January 2011. /GazetaExpress/