SECOND KLA TRIAL OPENS AT THE TRIBUNAL
In his opening statement, the prosecutor briefly recounted the incidents described in the indictment saying that the victims, who had been kidnapped or had gone missing at various locations, were all found in the same place: in the canal by the concrete wall used for executions, the wall riddled with bullet holes
Ramush Haradinaj, Idriz Baljaj and Lahi Brahimaj in the courtroom
In his opening statement, David Re, senior trial attorney on the prosecution team at the trial of former KLA commanders, outlined briefly the way in which the prosecution intended to prove Haradinaj, Balaj and Brahimaj guilty of the charges in the 37 counts of the indictment. They are accused of crimes against humanity and violations of laws and customs of war.
The three accused, Re said, were "the most prominent participants in the joint criminal enterprise", aimed at establishing total KLA control over western Kosovo. This was to be achieved in a campaign of kidnapping, detention, torture and murders of the Serbs, who would thus be forced to leave Kosovo, while the Roma and Kosovo Albanians who did not support the KLA or were suspected of collaborating with the Serb authorities would be intimidated. According to the prosecution, this campaign began in March 1998. By May, none of the 120 Serbian families that had lived in this area before the conflict remained there. By September 1998, in the Dukadjin operative zone – area under the command of Ramush Haradinaj – there were no Roma or Kosovo Albanians who did not fully support the KLA.
Setting up the scene for the evidence it will present in the course of the weeks to come, the prosecution showed a series of satellite photos of the part of Kosovo where the main locations relevant for the trial were marked: Haradinaj's family house near Glodjani, the KLA headquarters and prison in Jablanica, the Black Eagles headquarters in the village of Rznici, and the concrete canal leading to the Radonjic lake. In September 1998, the bodies of dozens of victims were found in that canal. Three former KLA commanders are charged with this crime. Most of the bodies had gunshot wounds, mostly to the head and chest. The post mortems on a number of them revealed multiple fractures caused by blunt objects. Several victims had been tied with barbed wire or rubber cables, and some had had their throats cut.
The prosecution recounted briefly all the 18 incidents described in the indictment. All the victims were kidnapped or went missing under different circumstances and on various locations, or were last seen in Jablanica prison. They were all found at the same place: in the canal by the concrete wall used for executions, riddled with bullets. The evidence will prove that the bodies could have been brought there only from the territory controlled by the KLA, the prosecution claims. At the time, the KLA actions were planned and run by the accused Ramush Haradinaj.
The headquarters of the Black Eagles, the unit commanded by the second accused Idriz Balaj, was located in the immediate vicinity of the canal. The prosecution claims that this unit in fact "kidnapped, detained, tortured and killed civilians who did not support the KLA". The war log kept by Balaj will be used in the prosecution's case. The third accused, Lahi Brahimaj, the prosecution says, was the commander of the Jablanica prison. Both Haradinaj and Balaj often visited the prison. Many of the victims were detained there and were last seen alive in the prison.
- Case : Haradinaj et al.
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- 2007-03-12 EXPELLED TWICE IN ONE MONTH