Vekaric: Special court for KLA war crimes a necessity

Establishing a special court for war crimes committed by the self-styled Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) (an ethnic Albanian paramilitary formation) against Serbs and other non-Albanians in Kosovo in 1998 and 1999 is a necessity, Serbia's deputy war crimes prosecutor Bruno Vekaric said on Wednesday.

(kosovocompromisestuff) Thursday, April 10, 2014

Forming a special court for Kosovo war crimes would be a response to "what has been left unsaid in the past," and a consequence of the fact that the perpetrators and those responsible for crimes committed by the KLA have not been prosecuted yet, Vekaric said.Serbia has no authority over Kosovo-Metohija (as a result of the introduction of the UN administration there), and Serbian investigation authorities have no access to information on KLA crimes, while international justice seems to have avoided punishing the perpetrators of those crimes, he explained.The special court for war crimes in Kosovo must provide the answers we have not been given yet, Vekaric said.Unlike other war crimes courts, it will not be operating under the auspices of the UN, but as an EU court and, as opposed to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), it will also have jurisdiction over crimes committed in Albania, Vekaric said.Abducted and missing Kosovo Serbs and other non-Albanians are suspected to have been victims of an organ-harvesting operation run in the so-called Yellow house in Burrel, Albania."We are supportive of that (the idea to establish the court) and we hope that we will get the ultimate answer (on the crimes committed by the KLA)," the Serbian deputy war crimes prosecutor said."A special investigation team has toured Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. It has collected the information and is finalising the investigation," he added, expressing hope that "some people will answer for crimes against Serbs."The special court will most likely be based in The Hague, but its administrative headquarters could be located in Pristina, as a consolation to the ethnic Albanians, Vekaric said.To ensure witness safety, it is important that the trials of KLA crimes are held in a location other than Belgrade or Pristina, as witnesses of crimes committed by ethnic Albanians have been intimidated, threatened, or even assassinated.The assembly of Kosovo is reluctant to adopt a decision on setting up a special war crimes court, which Vekaric said "is really not easy for the Kosovo Albanians to do"."That is why the United States got involved, and it should put them under political pressure to adopt the decision. It will definitely be a political decision, and one that will be implemented, regardless of whether the (Kosovo) Albanians want it to be or not," Vekaric concluded.