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ICTY convicts Kosovo political figures for interfering with Haradinaj witnesses

[JURIST] Two prominent Kosovar Albanians were found guilty of contempt [press release; judgment summary, PDF] Wednesday in the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website]. Former Kosovo minister for Culture, Youth and Sport Astrit Haraqija was sentenced to five months in prison, and Bajrush Morina, former political advisor to the Deputy Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport and a part-time journalist was sentenced to three months for interfering with a witness during the trial of former Kosovo Albanian military leader Ramush Haradinaj [ICTY materials, PDF; JURIST news archive]. The trial chamber found that Haraqija exercised influence over Morina and that Morina told a witness that other witnesses who had testified against Haradinaj had been killed. The court found:

[I]t was clear that Bajrush Morina's words were intended and could only be understood as a strong and unequivocal call on Witness 2 to refrain from testifying in the Haradinaj et al. case. In the Trial Chamber's view, such behaviour constituted intimidation.
The court also found that Haraqija abused his political position.

In July, the ICTY convicted a Kosovar journalist [JURIST report] of exposing the identity of a witness involved with the Haradinaj trial. Haradinaj was a senior commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) [GlobalSecurity backgrounder], the ethnic Albanian guerrilla force that opposed Slobodan Milosevic [JURIST news archive] during the 1998-1999 Kosovo war [BBC backgrounder]. He was indicted [initial indictment text] by ICTY prosecutors in 2005. Haradinaj was acquitted [JURIST report] in April, but former Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte’s claims of witness intimidation have brought the proceedings under scrutiny. Prosecutors are now appealing.

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