A judge at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers in The Hague ruled on Monday that the former mayor of the Malisheve/Malisevo municipality, Isni Kilaj, suspected of obstruction of justice and obstructing officials during the course of their duties, must remain in custody because he might flee, interfere with evidence or witnesses, or commit the same crime again.
Pre-trial judge Nicolas Guillou stated that “there is a grounded suspicion that Mr. Kilaj has committed offences against the administration of justice falling under the jurisdiction of the SC [Specialist Chambers], including obstructing official persons in performing official duties… and violating secrecy of proceedings”.
Guillou said that there are grounds to believe that there is the risk of flight, or that Kilaj will “hide, change or forge evidence of a crime” or “obstruct the progress of the criminal proceedings by influencing witnesses, victims or accomplices”.
He also said that Kilaj might repeat the offence or complete the commission of a crime he has already attempted or threatened to commit.
Kilaj is a former Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA unit commander and the former head of the Malisheve/Malisevo branch of the opposition Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, which was previously led by Hashim Thaci.
Former Kosovo President Thaci is the most high-profile defendant currently on trial at the Specialist Chambers for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Further details of the allegations against Kilaj have not yet been made public.
On November 3, the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office announced that Kilaj had been arrested in Kosovo and transferred to detention at the Specialist Chambers in The Hague.
Kilaj made his first appearance in court on Saturday, when the prosecution asked for a continuation of his detention, while the defence argued that he is innocent.
The Kosovo Specialist Chambers were established to try former KLA guerrillas for wartime and post-war crimes allegedly committed from 1998 to 2000.
The 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