Protected prosecution witness says that in 1998 he visited his brother who was detained in the KLA camp in Jablanica a few times. The witness saw that his brother had been badly beaten: his eyes and hands were swollen, his face was disfigured, his clothes were covered in mud and he couldn’t walk without the guards’ help. The witness didn’t mention Ramush Haradinaj; he said he saw Lahi Brahimaj and Idriz Balaj in the prison camp

Ramush Haradinaj, Idriz Baljaj and Lahi Brahimaj in the courtroomRamush Haradinaj, Idriz Baljaj and Lahi Brahimaj in the courtroom

A protected prosecution witness testifying as Witness 75 began his evidence at the trial of Ramush Haradinaj, Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj two days ago. Today he described what he saw when he visited the KLA camp in Jablanica where his brother was detained. In the first part of his evidence the witness said that uniformed KLA members arrested his brother in the early spring of 1998 near the village of Zabalj in Kosovo. The witness’s brother was then transferred to Jablanica where he and other prisoners were victims of numerous crimes. The three accused are on trial for those crimes.

As the witness said, he first went to the Jablanica prison camp a month after his brother’s arrest to visit him. Naser Brahimaj, a cousin of the accused Lahi Brahimaj, prevented the witness seeing his brother. Seven days after his first visit, the witness went to Jablanica again, this time with his mother. He was able to spend ‘just one minute’ with his brother. The witness could hardly recognize him because he was so badly ‘disfigured’ because of the beating. The witness was nevertheless sure that it was his brother because the brother used his nickname that nobody else knew.

About two or three weeks later, the witness went to Jablanica for the third time, again with his mother. This time, they were given more time, 10 to 15 minutes, for the visit. As the witness recounted, his brother was so badly beaten that it was ‘terrible to look at him’: his eyes and hands were swollen, his face was disfigured, and there was mud on his clothes. His brother couldn’t walk and KLA guards were holding him up. The witness’s brother told him that he was first held in the basement and was then moved to a room on the ground floor. ‘Whoever came in would beat me up’, the witness’s brother said. He was not allowed to bathe for long periods and received food once a week; he was ‘fed like a dog’. Asked if he and his mother were able to say goodbye to the brother, the witness said ‘I wished we could’. It was not possible because they couldn’t hug him since he was in so much pain.

Three months after the arrest, Naser Brahimaj brought the witness’s brother home to see his family. Brahimaj told the witness that his brother was under arrest on suspicion of ‘collaborating with the Serbian service’. Brahimaj then took the witness’s brother back to Jablanica with him. It was not clear from the evidence if the witness’s brother was later released or was killed like many other prisoners in the camp.

The witness said that during his visits to Jablanica he saw Lahi Brahimaj, who was saluted by other KLA soldiers. In late 1998, the witness joined the KLA and learned that the person he saw often in his previous visits to Jablanica was Idriz Balaj.

The cross-examination proceeded for the most part in closed session. Brahimaj’s counsel Richard Harvey asked in open session a few questions about the witness’s attempts to illegally enter the USA and then the country of his current residence. It remained unclear if the defense wanted to impeach the witness because he had obtained his visa illegally or to show that the witness agreed to testify for the prosecution to improve his chances with the immigration authorities in the country where he resides. His evidence continues tomorrow.