WITNESS: “HARADINAJ BEAT ME UP AND WOUNDED ME”
Former FARK member describes torture he was subjected to in the KLA HQ in Glodjane. He identifies Ramush and Daut Haradinaj and Idriz Balaj as the perpetrators. Haradinaj tried to kill him, but then he apologized to the witness the next day.
Ramush Haradinaj in the courtroom
The witness testifying under pseudonym 29 and with voice and image distortion as protective measures is a former member of FARK, the Armed Forces of the Republic of Kosovo, loyal to Ibrahim Rugova. He described how he had been beaten and wounded on 4 July 1998 in the KLA HQ in Glodjane. Ramush Haradinaj wounded him, while Daut Haradinaj and the second accused Idriz Balaj took part in the beating. The two of them arrested the witness and three other FARK soldiers in the village of Rznic and took them the headquarters in Glodjane where they brutally beat them up.
The witness and FARK soldiers passed through Rznic on their way to the Albanian border where the witness was supposed to take over some weapons. In his view, the KLA wanted to be the only Albanian army in Kosovo and that was the reason why he had been arrested and beaten up. Ramush Haradinaj displayed his hostility towards the rival army in late June 1998 when a FARK brigade entered Kosovo from Albania, the witness said. Haradinaj, as the Dukagjin Operative Zone commander, visited the FARK brigade HQ in the village of Jasic and ordered them to return to where they came from. He threatened that the KLA would first deal with them if they didn’t obey, and then go on to deal with the enemy: the Serbian military and police.
As he described the beating he sustained in the Glodjane HQ, he said that it all had begun when Ramush Haradinaj had hit one of FARK soldiers with a pistol. Then Daut Haradinaj, Ramush Haradinaj’s brother, Idriz Balaj and about 20 to 30 KLA soldiers joined in. According to the witness, the FARK soldiers were punched, hit with pistols and rifle butts. At one point Ramush Haradinaj said, “I will kill him with my own hands”, put a pistol to the witness’s throat and pulled the trigger. He hit the witness a bit lower, in the shoulder, as the witness was moving and trying to break free. The beating stopped abruptly, the witness said, just as it had begun and on the same day he and his fellow fighters were allowed to go to the FARK HQ in the village of Papracane.
In his cross-examination, Haradinaj’s defense counsel put it to the witness that his statement was “a series of intentional lies” and went on to present an entirely different version of events. Defense counsel Ben Emmerson said that the witness had been wounded after a conflict with the KLA members at a check point not far from the KLA HQ in Glodjani. Haradinaj came running when he heard the shots and the next day went to Papracane to apologize to Tahir Zemaj, the FARK commander, for the conduct of his soldiers. The witness confirmed that Haradinaj had indeed apologized to Zemaj, but in his opinion, he had apologized only for his conduct and not for that of his subordinates.
The trial of Ramush Haradinaj, Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj continues on 7 May 2007.
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