Koha: Diplomats in shock, amnesty for war crimes part of the Belgrade-Pristina agreement?

 

Talks on normalisation of relations in Brussels (illustration)

Amnesty for war crimes could be part of what is announced to be the „final agreement“ between the negotiating teams of Belgrade and Pristina, or Kosovo and Serbia, Koha Ditore daily reported today while citing „very credible diplomatic sources.“ As a result, the Special Court will be dismantled. Diplomats are in shock, Koha also stated.

„Some international diplomats were shocked upon hearing of an amnesty for war crimes in Kosovo might be included in the final agreement between Kosovo and Serbia. Very credible diplomatic sources told Koha Ditore that officials in Pristina heard of such a proposal and that there was a level of readiness among the negotiators to do so, both in Kosovo and Serbia,“the Pristina-based newspaper reported.

Such an amnesty is considered „valid for both parties involved in the Kosovo war“, and as a result, the Special Court will be thus dismantled.

Koha claims that the Kosovo Presidency has indirectly confirmed that an amnesty might be possible. The government and the ruling parties refused to comment, while the opposition reacted against it.

„New State and Modern Statesman“, the lack of the issue in public, previous international warnings

The issue of the Special Court has been vanishing from the public eye for several months now. During that time, Kosovo President Hashim Thaci, who was the subject of frequent speculations that he could be the subject of  an indictment, has presented his book „New State, Modern Statesman“ throughout diplomatic circles, and across European capitals.

„In the biography by British authors, Kosovo president and former guerrilla leader Hashim Thaci is portrayed as a superstar. In Pristina, it is believed that the positive image campaign is connected with the fear of war crimes charges,“ the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung wrote after  promoting the book at the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna.

„He could be charged with war crimes by the International Criminal Court in Hague. Thaci, who always denied these allegations, has allegedly signed contracts worth millions of euros in recent years with lobby firms and law firms in the US and England. Now the fifty-year-old, with a slicked-back hair and a smile, is shining on the cover of a freshly printed book. Equally flattering is the title: ‘New State, Modern Statesman'“- the same newspaper outlined.

The Kosovo Special War Crimes Court has been officially ready for operation since the 5th of July last year. However, there is still no official public information if the first indictments can be issued. During the last year and earlier this year, there were several high-profile international visits to Kosovo and a series of harsh statements of concern due to obstruction against the court operating; also, clear warnings of the consequences if the obstruction continues, including concerns from the State Department.

Meanwhile, judges held their plenary session in May. In March, former prosecutor, David Swendiman, delivered a speech in a crowded room of the Leiden University, „reflecting on the time spent in the role of a specialized prosecutor and the challenges that arise,“ sending a message that the court has „analyzed and reviewed about 700,000 pages of data, 70,000 documents, about 6,000 related items – videos, photos, transcripts and other materials collected during the investigation to date.“ Jack Smith was appointed as the new prosecutor,the list of defense counsels was expanded, and Italian Pietro Spera was appointed as Ombudsperson for the Specialist Chambers.

High expectations

The process of the founding of the court followed the report by former Council of Europe Special Rapporteur Dick Marty, who linked the KLA leaders, including, as it was speculated in the public, Hashim Thaci, with serious crimes in Kosovo and organ trafficking. It also followed an investigation by the special prosecutor of the EU Special Investigative Task Force for crimes in Kosovo since 1999, Clint Williamson. Nevertheless, in 2014, Williamson claimed that his team did not find evidence to initiate an indictment for organ trafficking, saying that the findings in the report of the EU Special Investigative Task Force, which was formed after Dick Marty’s report, „fully match”. This team also found „unquestionable evidence against certain KLA leaders“.

For more details on the Special Court and the founding process, see our thematic page „Special Court for Kosovo“.

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