The Kosovo Specialist Chambers mandate will continue until the proceedings are concluded

Griep Angela portparol suda
The Kosovo Specialist Chambers’ mandate will continue until the EU Council notifies the Kosovo government that all proceedings and investigations have been concluded, so there is no formal extension needed for this court to continue with its work – the Specialist Chambers spokesperson, Angela Griep told KoSSev, denying allegations that the Kosovo Assembly needs to approve the extension of the mandate of this court. In an interview for KoSSev in the Hague, Griep also spoke about the indictment process, the procedure after this process, and witness protection.

Ever since it was founded in 2015, the Kosovo Specialist Chambers has been harshly criticized, while former KLA members – certain Kosovo officials and institutions – made several attempts to obstruct the work of this court. Almost five years later, according to still unconfirmed information, hundreds of people were questioned as witnesses or suspects, and among them, a good number of Pristina officials – former KLA members.

While numerous unofficial announcements claim that the first indictments could be soon filed, Pristina officials speculate that future Kosovo institutions should not „extend the mandate of the Specialist Chambers“. In addition, some politicians also claimed that this would actually be discussed in the future convocation of the Kosovo Assembly.

According to the 2015 Amendment of the Constitution of Kosovo, on the basis of which the Specialist Chambers was formed, this court’s five-year term expires next year, the Radio Free Europe recently reported.

On the other hand, Griep argues that the Specialist Chambers’ mandate will continue until the EU Council decides otherwise.

„It is provided in law and adopted by the Kosovo Assembly – that the mandate of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers continues until the EU Council notifies the Kosovo government that all proceedings and investigations have been concluded. So, there is no formal extension needed for the Kosovo Specialist Chambers to continue with their work,“ Griep said.

Witness protection is a key priority

In an interview with KoSSev at the headquarters of this tribunal in the Hague, Griep did not specify whether and how the witness protection process would be changed from previous trials.

“Witness protection and support is of the utmost priority for the Kosovo Specialist Chambers and the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office,” Griep briefly replied.

“We have a specialized unit only dealing with witness protection and support to ensure security, safety and the well-being of witnesses before, during, and after trial,” she said.

How are indictments filed?

“Once the Specialist prosecutor decides that he has enough evidence to file an indictment, he will file an indictment with the pre-trial judge, and then the pre-trial judge will look at that indictment and he has six months to decide if he or she agrees that there is sufficient evidence for an indictment or not. If he believes there is sufficient evidence, he will confirm the indictment and that is the moment when the suspect becomes accused. And the accused will then be served the indictment in his native language” – the Specialist Chambers spokesperson described the indictment process.

At that moment, in most cases, the indictments will be publicly known – Griep added.

“There may be reasons why it will be kept confidential a little longer – arrest, for example. In that case, the accused has a week to appear before the judge,” she said.

According to Griep, during the trial process, the accused will be detained in the Hague, while the place where they will serve their sentence will “depend on the secretariat, which has the possibility of entering into cooperation with other countries.”

Griep also said that the proceedings will be live-streamed on the site of this court – in Serbian, Albanian and English language.

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