A day after the Kosovo Special Prosecutor’s Office announced that it filed an indictment against Hashim Thaci, Kadri Veseli and other persons with the Kosovo Specialist Chambers two months aKgo, some Kosovo officials have started a debate on whether the Special Prosecutor’s Office violated the procedure by disclosing two names from the indictment. The Kosovo Specialist Chamber’s regulations, however, say that in exceptional cases the prosecutor is allowed to disclose the indictment even before it is confirmed.
Although Kosovo Prime Minister, Avdullah Hoti said that his government would not comment on the Specialist Chambers, and that it would „fully respect its international obligations,“ Kosovo ambassador to the Netherlands, Lirim Greicevci shared his opinion on the indictment on Twitter.
“The announcement by the SPO about accusations filed against President Thaci and Mr Veseli, before they had been confirmed by a judge and most likely in breach of the Court’s Rules, will call into serious question their independence and professionalism,” the diplomat said.
He also said that “most international media have reported, erroneously, that Mr Thaci and Mr Veseli had been formally charged,” although there is still a theoretical possibility the judge might not confirm the accusations. In that case, according to Greicevci, irreversible damage will have been caused to “Kosovo’s image as a young state.”
Although the KSC regulations available on the website state that the indictment should be disclosed only after the judge formally confirms it, the regulations also say that in exceptional cases the prosecutor is allowed to disclose the indictment before the judge confirms it if the prosecutor deems it necessary for the investigation or criminal persecution.
In yesterday’s statement, the SPO just warned that Thaci and Veseli obstructed and undermined the work of the court and conducted a secret campaign to overturn the law creating the Court and otherwise obstruct the work of the Court in an attempt to ensure that they do not face justice.
Graicevci condemned this move by the SPO, stating that they have thus become „both a judge and a jury.“ He also requested clarification from this institution.
Public attempts made to repeal the Law on Specialist Chambers at the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018
In its statement, the SPO referred to the „secret campaign“ to overturn the Law on Kosovo Specialist Chambers. In December 2017, however, very open attempts were made for a vote in the Assembly of Kosovo to overturn this law. At that time, the voting was prevented with the great diplomatic efforts of the US ambassador to Kosovo and the head of the EU Office in Kosovo.
In addition, Pristina-based Koha recently wrote about Hashim Thaci’s diplomatic initiative directed towards the State Department – also regarding the abolition of the court. In a letter to the US Secretary of State, Thaci stated that the KSC had made little progress in fulfilling its mandate, and that it had not implemented its mandate as planned. Pompeo, however, replied that abolishing the KSC would damage Kosovo’s reputation and cause consequences.
On the other hand, in recent months, it was widely speculated that an amnesty for war crimes could be part of a package of agreements between Belgrade and Pristina that would include, among other things, land swap.
“The Specialist Chambers are established by Kosovo, through a Constitutional amendment and Act of Parliament. They have a duty to operate under Kosovo law and best EU and international practices. An explanation by the KSC President is essential to safeguard the credibility of the Court,” he also tweeted.
The niece of the Kosovo president, Evgjeni Thaci presented similar accusations against the SOP earlier today. Thaci assessed SOP’s move as political, adding that it was „amateur blackmail that came at a time when efforts should be made to achieve a lasting peace with Serbia and continue moving toward a more certain future.“
The Kosovo President, Hashim Thaci, however, has not reacted yet.
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