ICTY appeals chamber rules on interfering with Haradinaj witnesses

[JURIST] The appeals chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] on Thursday reversed the contempt conviction [press release; judgment summary, PDF] of Astrit Haraqija and affirmed the conviction of Bajrush Morina for interfering with a witness during the trial of former Kosovo Albanian military leader Ramush Haradinaj [ICTY materials, PDF; JURIST news archive]. The two prominent Kosovar Albanians were found guilty of contempt [JURIST report] in December. Haraqija, former Kosovo minister for Culture, Youth, and Sport, was sentenced to five months in prison, and Morina, former political advisor to the Deputy Minister of Culture, Youth, and Sport and a part-time journalist was sentenced to three months. 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 appeals chamber reversed Haraqija's conviction, finding insufficient evidence, but rejected all of Morina's grounds for appeal. Both Haraqija and Morina have been on provisional release since completing their sentences.

Last 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 2008, 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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