The indictment against the three former KLA commanders has 37 counts. This figure, the prosecution noted in its reply to an order from the Trial Chamber, creates a "false impression" of the scope of the case. Each incident in the indictment is crucial for the effort to prove the allegations contained therein, and any cuts in the indictment would "violate the right of the prosecution to a fair trial"

Ramush Haradinaj in the courtroomRamush Haradinaj in the courtroom

Any cuts in the number of counts in the indictment or of the incidents they refer to would "threaten the very core of the prosecution case and thus violate the right of the prosecution to a fair trial." The prosecution made this point in its reply to the Trial Chamber's order to cut down the scope of the indictment against Ramush Haradinaj, Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj.

The indictment against three former KLA commanders contains 37 counts. According to the prosecution, this figure creates a "false impression" of the size of the case. The counts refer to 18 separate incidents with a relatively small number of victims – 65 of them - who are of different ethnic backgrounds. The three accused are charged with violations of the laws or customs of war and crimes against humanity committed as part of a joint criminal enterprise. The prosecution must therefore prove "the representative nature" of the crimes listed in the indictment and the systematic and widespread character of the attacks on the civilian population. Each and every incident is crucial for the effort to prove the allegations in the indictment, the prosecution noted in it its reply. To drop any of the counts would "violate the right of the prosecution to a fair trial".

In their order, the judges focused on 8 counts, or four incidents, that in their opinion should be excluded from the indictment. The prosecution warns the judges that this would disturb "the delicate balance" in the ethnic composition of the victims of the crimes Haradinaj, Balaj and Brahimaj are charged with. If the eight counts are dropped, eleven out of a total of 18 Serbian victims identified in the indictment will no longer be in the indictment. At the same time, only 3 of the 19 Kosovo Albanians identified in the indictment would no longer be there.

In its reply to the Trial Chamber, the prosecution states that it might be forced to drop some of the allegations in the indictment because many witnesses are still "reluctant" to appear in court. The request for the cuts in the indictment is "premature". A number of counts or incidents will be proved through the testimony of three or four witnesses, and it is as yet unclear whether they would go on with their evidence or change their minds and refuse to testify.

The prosecution believes it has already done much to reduce the length of the trial of the three KLA commanders. The prosecution witness list has been cut from 107 down to 99 persons and the time needed to examine them has been reduced from 230 hours down to 125 hours, which means approximately thirty trial days. The trial is slated to begin on 5 March 2007.