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Kosovo Albanian Witness Testifies About Relative’s Abduction by Guerrillas

The 20th witness at the war crimes and crimes against humanity trial of former Kosovo President Hashim Thaci and three co-defendants testified on Monday at the Kosovo Special Chambers in The Hague that one of his family members was taken away by the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA in 1998.

The witness, who was testifying anonymously, told the court that his relative’s remains were never found.

“We did not receive any information from the KLA and we still do not know [what happened to the victim],” the witness said.

The witness explained that the relative had previously been paying off unnamed Serbs to prevent other family members from being arrested by the Serbian authorities in control of Kosovo at the time.

Summarising previous testimony given by the witness to the UN’s interim Kosovo administration UNMIK in 2000 and to the Kosovo Specialist Prosecutor’s Office in 2019, the prosecution said that in 1998, armed KLA members entered the witness’s house, questioned his relative and then abducted him.

After the abduction, the witness and his relatives went to the local KLA headquarters to ask about the seized relative, but did not receive any information and never saw their relative again. His remains were never found.

Most of the testimony at Monday’s hearing was closed to the public, however.

Thaci and his co-defendants, 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, who all became senior politicians in Kosovo after the war, 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.

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 : BalkanInsight