Ramush Haradinaj’s defense counsel tried to prove that the KLA didn’t want to expel the FARK – a rival army – from Kosovo but wanted to integrate its soldiers into the KLA ranks. Haradinaj’s defense counsel showed the witness an entry from a diary kept by an FARK officer, in which the man says ‘it makes no sense any more to speak about two different armies’, as the FARK joined the KLA

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

The cross-examination of the protected witness testifying under the pseudonym 77 was interrupted the day before yesterday and resumed today. The witness claimed that in the summer of 1998 in the Dukagjin area the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) wanted to prevent the Armed Forces of the Republic of Kosovo (FARK) from deploying their troops around Decani. The KLA forced the FARK fighters to return to Albania, whence they had arrived in late June 1998.

If the witness’s testimony is true, it is consistent with the allegation in the indictment for the crimes in the Jablanica prison camp against Ramush Haradinaj, Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj. According to the indictment, the goal of the KLA was to eliminate the FARK and other rival forces in the Dukagjin area to be ‘able to dominate the area and persecute civilians’. In the course of the cross-examination so far, Ramush Haradinaj’s defense lawyer confronted the witness with various documents and a video recording from Barani where the KLA and FARK members took their oaths together. The evidence shows that the two Kosovo Albanian armies worked side by side after 10 July 1992. Since the witness insisted he didn’t know anything about the cooperation, the defense counsel showed him another exhibit in a bid to support the defense case.

The prosecutor showed a diary of a former FARK officer whose name was not disclosed to protect his identity. The FARK member wrote down in his diary that on 13 July 1998 he met with the residents of a village in Kosovo and told them to respond to the call-up. When the villagers asked him if the call-up was issued by the KLA or the FARK, ,he told them ‘it makes no sense any more to speak about two different armies because the leaderships have agreed that the KLA was the core of the defense of Kosovo’ and the FARK would join it. The FARK officer ended his speech by saying ‘the KLA is us, we are the KLA’.

Asked if he was mistaken when he said that the two armies were bitter rivals, the witness said he didn’t know anything about any deals made by the leaders. He was still convinced that the KLA’s goal was to eliminate the FARK. The witness did admit that he and other members of the FARK 134th Brigade wore the KLA insignia on their uniforms, but he claimed they received orders from the defense ministry of the Kosovo government in exile and not from the KLA commanders in the field.

After Witness 77 completed his evidence, the Trial Chamber decided to admit into evidence as a prosecution exhibit the statement of Stanisa Radosevic, a Serb from Kosovo; the exhibit consists of his statement to the OTP investigators and the transcript of his testimony at the first trial of Haradinaj, Balaj and Brahimaj. At that trial, Radosevic said that in April 1998 he was beaten in the KLA headquarters in Glodjani which was under Haradinaj’s command. Radosevic’s father was kidnapped soon afterwards and killed. The re-trial of Haradinaj, Brahimaj and Balaj was ordered because there had been problems with witnesses at the first trial.

The trial of the former KLA commanders continues on 25 October 2011 with the evidence of protected prosecution witnesses.