Photo: AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu.

Kosovo President: ‘The Specialist Court will not result in justice’

Although he backed its establishment, President Hashim Thaci criticized the Kosovo Specialist Court, saying that it was unfair to Albanians as it was set to prosecute only KLA-related war crimes.

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci said on Monday that the Kosovo Specialist Court “can result in restrictions of freedom for some, but not justice and interethnic reconciliation.”

“Kosovo, unlike any other country in the region, cooperated for the establishment of a special court,” President Thaci added. “I agreed to lead an unfair historical process towards Kosovo.”

The Kosovo President made these comments at a public presentation of the report “Public perception of the Kosovo Specialist Court: Risks and Opportunities,” published by Pax for Peace in the Netherlands in collaboration with the Centre for Peace and Tolerance, Integra, and Impunity Watch.

The report presents the results of a three-month public perception study in Kosovo on the Kosovo Specialist Chambers and the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office for Kosovo, jointly called the Kosovo Specialist Court.

The Court was established to adjudicate war crimes cases against individuals associated with the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, from 1998-2000; allegations of war crimes and organ trafficking were “notably raised in a 2012 Council of Europe report produced by Swiss politician Dick Marty,” the report explains.

A ‘hybrid court,’ the Specialist Court is part of Kosovo’s judicial system but located in The Hague and staffed with international judges and prosecutors.

Authored by Michael Warren, Kushtrim Koliqi, Nenad Maksimovic, and Marlies Stappers, the study uses the household survey methodology, with a sample of 1,356 people over the age of 18 from all Kosovo municipalities. The sample included 853 Albanians, 402 Serbs, and 101 members of other communities, including Turkish, Bosnian, Gorani, Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptian.

Main findings include that there is widespread misinformation and a low public awareness about the Specialist Court, with  60.4 per cent of Albanians and 59.2 per cent of Serbs believing they do not receive enough information about the court.

Additionally, 76.4 per cent Kosovo Albanians view the mandate to prosecute only KLA-associated war crimes as unfair, and 51 per cent of Albanians said that they are willing to protest indictments of KLA veterans.

Public confidence in the court was also revealed to be low: 69 per cent of Kosovo Serbs believe that it is unlikely that the court will bring justice to those who committed serious war crimes, and 81.1 per cent of Serbs and 48.8 percent of Albanians believe that it is not safe for witnesses to testify.  

President Thaci described his interpretation of why Kosovo Albanians perceive the court as unfair.

“All Albanians accused by The Hague Tribunal [the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, ICTY] surrendered voluntarily to The Hague. Kosovo was the most loyal [of the post-war states] and the most damaged,” he said.

“The KLA war was fair and legitimate,” he said, adding that there has not been justice for the 20,000 cases of rape and 12,000 murders that Serbian forces committed against Albanians during the Kosovo War.

“Everyone says and works in order so no one can be above the law. This [the court] is met by Albanians with disbelief, because being a mono-ethnic court, they are realizing that the perpetrators of genocide are favored over the Kosovo Albanian civilian population,” President Thaci said.

The Law on the Special Court was passed by the Kosovo Assembly in 2015. The then Prime Minister Hashim Thaci was one of the main backers.

09/10/2017 - 13:19

09 October 2017 - 13:19

Prishtina Insight is a digital and print magazine published by BIRN Kosovo, an independent, non-governmental organisation. To find out more about the organization please visit the official website. Copyright © 2016 BIRN Kosovo.