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Kosovo Albanian Detained as ‘traitor’ by Guerrillas Gives Evidence

Agim Idrizi, an ethnic Albanian, testified at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers in The Hague on Monday afternoon and Tuesday that he was detained by the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA in 1999, after rumours spread that he was working as a police officer and forest ranger for Serbia during the war.

Idrizi was the 21st witness at the war crimes and crimes against humanity trial of former Kosovo President Hashim Thaci and three co-defendants, all former guerrillas who became senior politicians.

The witness asked the court: “If it turns out that I wasn’t [collaborating with Serbia], who will pay for my life?

“I wasn’t a policeman or a forest ranger, these are lies, I know who put my name in the list and why they put me there,” he added, alleging that two individuals from his hometown Kacanik had spread rumours about him and eventually caused his abduction by the KLA.

“I have had nothing against the KLA or other Albanians, I only had issues with these people, which was a personal issue, not a state one… everyone knew that it was an issue related to land ownership and nothing else,” he said.

The witness claimed that in 1999, ten armed KLA members abducted him from his house and took him to the village of Bob in the Kacanik municipality, where he and four other detainees were held.

According to the indictment of Thaci and his co-defendants, four detainees were held in Bob from March 5-6, 1999.

Thaci, Kadri Veseli, Rexhep Selimi and Jakup Krasniqi are accused of bearing individual and command responsibility for crimes that were mainly committed against prisoners held at KLA detention facilities in Kosovo and neighbouring Albania, including 102 murders.

The defendants allegedly committed the crimes between at least March 1998 and September 1999, during and just after the war with Serbian forces. They have pleaded not guilty to all charges.

After Idrizi finished giving evidence on Tuesday, Fred Abrahams from the international NGO Human Rights Watch, who worked on human rights reports about Kosovo before and during the war, began testifying.

Abrahams explained that a parallel system was created by ethnic Albanians in Kosovo before the war and those who did not participate were “deemed disloyal and placed in a cloud of suspicion which became more suspenseful as the conflict intensified… the term collaborator was used to label people by 1998, people who was challenging the armed insurgency”.

He will continue giving testimony on Wednesday.

The Kosovo Specialist Chambers were set up in 2015 by the Kosovo parliament, acting under pressure from Kosovo’s Western allies, who believed that Kosovo’s own justice system was not robust enough to try KLA cases and protect witnesses from intimidation. Previous trials at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal were marred by witness-tampering.

Source : Balkan Insight