ICTY prosecutor seeks 20-year sentence for former Kosovo PM

[JURIST] Prosecutors in the retrial of Ramush Haradinaj [materials; BBC profile], a Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] commander and the former prime minister of Kosovo, on Monday asked the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] to give him a sentence of at least 20 years. Prosecutor Paul Rogers told the court [AFP report] that he believed this was the minimum sentence appropriate for his crimes. Haradinaj, who faces numerous war crimes charges, was originally acquitted [JURIST report] of all charges in 2008. The ICTY appeals chamber later overturned the acquittals [JURIST report] of Haradinaj and two others in July 2010, after finding that the integrity of the original proceedings was compromised. The appeals chamber concluded that, due to the trial chamber's "[failure] to take sufficient steps to counter the witness intimidation that permeated the trial" the acquittals must be overturned. After the acquittals, many Serbians believed that the ICTY was unfairly prosecuting Serbians and letting ethnic Albanians free.

The ICTY began the retrial [JURIST report] of Haradinaj in August 2011. In preparation for the trial, witness and former KLA member Shefqet Kabashi was transferred to the ICTY to stand trial for contempt of court after refusing to answer questions during the initial proceeding. The ICTY says his testimony is critical to proving six counts of the indictment. In May 2008, ICTY Chief Prosecutor Serge Brammertz [official profile] filed an appeal against the acquittals [JURIST report]. Brammertz asked that the case be retried before a different chamber of the tribunal, arguing that prosecution was not allowed the to present enough witnesses. Haradinaj was charged with 37 counts of war crimes [JURIST report], including murder, persecution and rape, but was acquitted of all charges in April 2008 due to lack of evidence. Haradinaj was a senior commander in the KLA, the ethnic Albanian guerrilla force that opposed Slobodan Milosevic [JURIST news archive] during the 1998-1999 Kosovo war [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive].

 

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