At the trial of Haradinaj, Balaj and Brahimaj, the Trial Chamber has granted the prosecution’s motion to admit into evidence the transcript of the testimony former KLA soldier Shefqet Kabashi gave at the trial of Fatmir Limaj and others. The defense immediately moved to strike it off the record. After Kabashi ended his testimony, the prosecution called former Serbian State Security officer Zoran Stijovic

Shefqet Kabashi, witness at the Haradinaj, Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj trialShefqet Kabashi, witness at the Haradinaj, Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj trial

Presiding judge Bakone Moloto began today’s hearing at the trial of former KLA commander Ramush Haradinaj, Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj by saying that the Chamber granted the prosecution’s motion to admit into evidence the transcript of the evidence that Shefqet Kabashi had given at the trial of Fatmir Limaj and others in 2005. At that trial, Kabashi described the crimes against the prisoners in the Jablanica camp in 1998; Haradinaj, Balaj and Brahimaj are charged with those crimes. Kabashi refused to repeat his earlier claims in court this week.

The Chamber states in its decision that there is ‘no indication’ that Kabashi has expressed any reservations about the truthfulness of his 2005 evidence despite Kabashi’s claims that he "doesn't want" or "can not" recall what happened in Jablanica. This prompted the Chamber decided that admitting the transcript is in the interest of justice, and that the right of the accused to a fair trial has not been violated, since their lawyers were given a chance to cross-examine the witness today.

There was no cross-examination. The counsel of all three accused asked the same question, ‘Do you still maintain that you don’t feel capable of answering questions relating to the events in Jablanica”. The witness said yes three times. This led the defense lawyers to conclude that they had been denied their right to cross-examination and demanded that the freshly-admitted transcript of Kabashi’s previous testimony be stricken from the record. There was a lengthy debate in which the defense lawyers argued that the witness had never been properly cross-examined about the events in Jablanica: either today or during his testimony in the Limaj et al. case. The prosecutor on the other hand argued that the defense counsel had been too quick to give up on the opportunity to cross-examine the witness. The Chamber will rule on the defense’s request later.

Thus ended Kabashi's evidence, but he will remain in The Hague: on Friday noon he is to appear in court for his further appearance, where he will have another chance to enter his plea on the contempt of court indictment against him. He is indicted because in 2007 he refused to answer the prosecutor's questions at the trial of Haradinaj, Balaj and Brahimaj. The trial of the three former KLA commanders ended before Kabashi and another protected witness were heard. This prompted the Appeals Chamber to overturn Haradinaj’s and Balaj’s acquittal and to order a retrial on six counts in the indictment referring to the crimes in Jablanica.

After Kabashi left the courtroom, the prosecution called Zoran Stijovic, former officer of the Serbian State Security Service from Pristina. In a brief examination-in-chief, Stijovic said that in 1997 and 1998 the Serbian secret service had had intelligence about the KLA operations in Jablanica. As he said, the Jablanica group under the command of Lahi Brahimaj was responsible for the attacks on the Serbian police and civilians and the murders of Albanian ‘collaborationists’: people accused by the KLA of collaborating with the Serbs. Stijovic’s statement to the OTP investigators, the transcript of his testimony at the Haradinaj, Balaj and Brahimaj trial in 2007 and a number of other documents were admitted into evidence. He will continue his testimony tomorrow.