Kosovo journalist and writer, editor-in-chief of the Balkan newspaper Bayram Bomac, wrote, “Why are President Thaci and the leaders of Och on trial?” We present to your attention the article entitled.
The Special Court process came to light in 2011 with a report by Swiss Senator Dick Marty. According to the information in the report, KLA commanders during the war were accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Accordingly, the Kosovo government was pressured at the time by the United States and the European Union to establish a special tribunal to investigate these allegations. Based on these pressures, the Government of Kosovo passed the Law Establishing the Special Court, paving the way for the establishment of the court. The court was established in The Hague, Netherlands, on the grounds that a fair trial could not take place in Kosovo. International judges and prosecutors have begun ruling the court. The irony is that those who are currently being tried in the Court are those who have made the greatest effort to establish this Court; Prime Minister at that time Hashim Thaci, Kadri Veseli, etc. It happened. Because the pressure was on these people more than others.
The court began its work in 2015. To date, KLA commander Salih Mustafa has been tried and sentenced to 26 years in prison. The biggest case before the court will be the case against former Kosovo President Hashim Thaci, PDK party chairman and former Parliament Speaker Kadri Vecili, Member of Parliament Recep Selimi, and former politician Jakub Krasniqi. Hashem Tachi and others have been in prison since 2020. Although his lawyers demanded that he be placed under house arrest several times until the start of the case, the court did not accept this and decided to continue the detention on the grounds that people have the power to influence witnesses. The preliminary procedure took 28 months and 19 days. The Defense Office has been critical of the Public Prosecutor’s Office on this case, but the prosecution has cited the fact that there were too many documents and witnesses in the case as a reason for the length of the proceedings.
So what are the duties of Hashem Taci and others at UCLA? Thaci was KLA’s media officer, KLA’s supreme commander, and Prime Minister of the Provisional Administration of Kosovo. Kadri Veseli was the KLA’s intelligence chief, Recep Selimi was the KLA’s inspector, and Jakob Krasniqi was the KLA’s spokesman. The court is considering crimes committed between March 1998 and 2000. The indictment prepared by the Public Prosecutor’s Office relates to the war and post-war period. The indictment accuses them of crimes against humanity and war crimes. While charges such as torture, deprivation of liberty, torture, and unlawful killing are included in crimes against humanity, charges such as arbitrary arrest, unlawful detention, and cruel treatment are included in war crimes.
According to the indictment presented by the prosecution, these people were the founders and staff of the KLA. Therefore, the crimes allegedly committed took place within the direct knowledge and order of these persons. Allegedly, these people set up detention centers in order to assert their authority and gain power during and after the war. The indictment stated that there are detention centers in 40 places in Kosovo, as well as in the Albanian cities of Kokes and Kahan. Likewise, more than 400 people are allegedly being illegally detained in these detention centres.
In the indictment presented by the prosecution, it was alleged that KLA leaders detained and tortured people they called “traitors” and “collaborators” in these centers during the war, and that they eliminated those they believed were against them after the war. The prosecutor’s office states in the indictment that these people are considered collaborators with the Serbian regime, who belong to other Albanian political parties, and Albanians who do not support the KLA. He says that the number of dead in this way is 102 and 20 of them are missing. Similarly, the majority of the 102 dead were Albanians.
At the trial, which began on April 3, all of the defendants declared that they did not accept the allegations and that they were innocent. While the Public Prosecutor’s Office claimed that the KLA had a chain of command, that these persons formed a “criminal organization” and that all crimes were committed under command, the Defense Office claimed that Hashim Thaci and the others did not control the KLA, that the KLA was an organization guerrilla warfare and that the KLA was a guerrilla organization, he argues that there is no chain of command.
After 28 months of preliminary proceedings, the trial finally began. However, the trial is expected to take a very long time. Because the prosecutor’s office has many documents and witnesses. It is stated that there are 312 witnesses in the case, and according to accounts it is stated that it takes 6 and a half years for all the witnesses to be heard. As evidence, the prosecution uses statements released by UCK during the war, television interviews of people on trial, documentaries about UCK, handwritten notes found in the homes of the accused, and witnesses.
The trial, which began on April 3 and 5, will continue with evidence being presented on April 11. How and why the court was created is a mystery to many, but it is clear that this court will shed light on many dark deeds that were done in its time. Some truths that few Kosovars know and are afraid to speak about will be revealed in this court. This trial will be a long marathon, but it seems that with this court, the history of Kosovo will start to be written differently.
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