Former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) Commander Salih Mustafa (R) appears for the first public hearing before the Kosovo Specialist Chambers, in The Hague, The Netherlands, 09 June 2021. The suspect was the former commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) during the Kosovo war in 1998 and 1999. Photo: EPA-EFE/SEM VAN DER WAL / POOL

Kosovo Ex-Guerrilla Ordered to Pay War Victims €207,000

The Kosovo Specialist Chambers said Salih Mustafa, who was convicted of war crimes including arbitrary detention, torture and murder, should pay compensation to some of the victims.

A panel of judges at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers in The Hague decided on Thursday that Salih Mustafa, the wartime commander of one of the Kosovo Liberation Army’s operational zones should pay 207,000 euros in compensation “for the harm inflicted on the victims of the crimes for which he is convicted”.

Mustafa was found guilty in December of three war crimes charges including the arbitrary detention and torture of at least six detainees and the murder of one prisoner, and sentenced to 26 years in prison.

The court found that he committed the crimes against civilian prisoners at a KLA detention centre in the village of Zllash/Zlas while he was a commander in the KLA’s Llap Operation Zone in north-east Kosovo. The verdict can be appealed.

The compensation money will be distributed among eight victims in the case at the Specialist Chambers.

“Thirty thousand euros will be received by victim number 8, 80,000 euros to victim number 9, 60,000 thousand euros to victim number 10,” said presiding judge Mappie Veldt-Foglia.

She added that other victims would receive sums of 10,000, 5,000 and 2,000 euros.

But the judges noted that “Mr. Mustafa currently does not have the means to fully comply with the order” and suggested that Kosovo should step in to pay the compensation.

They also suggested that Kosovo should create “a new reparation mechanism for victims of crimes” that come within the jurisdiction of the Specialist Chambers. They suggested that this should be financed from Kosovo’s budget, because defendants at the Hague court are being financially supported to defend themselves, “whereas nothing is provided for the victims of crimes”.

They further noted that Kosovo’s legislation addressing harm and injuries suffered in the war “refers exclusively to the victims of the enemy forces” and not to all victims, which they said discriminates between the victims.

The Mustafa verdict was the first war crimes judgment to be handed down by the Kosovo Specialist Chambers, which were set up to try former KLA fighters for offences committed during and just after the Kosovo war from 1998 to 2000.

The Specialist Chambers are part of Kosovo’s judicial system but are located in the Netherlands and staffed by internationals, established under pressure from the country’s Western allies, who believe Kosovo’s own justice system is not robust enough to try KLA cases and protect witnesses from intimidation.

However, many Kosovo Albanians believe that the court is ethnically biased and denigrates the KLA’s just war against Serbian repression.

and 07/04/2023 - 10:27

07 April 2023 - 10:27

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