The cross-examination of a protected prosecution witness testifying under the pseudonym 81 continued today in much the same spirit as yesterday. Ramush Haradinaj’s defense lawyer brought up the inconsistencies in the statements the witness has made, accusing him of lying. The witness replied that he made mistakes because he was scared, and called the defense counsel a liar in turn

Ramush Haradinaj in the courtroomRamush Haradinaj in the courtroom

After a heated cross-examination yesterday in which accusations flew, Ramush Haradinaj’s defense lawyer started the cross-examination today by again accusing the witness of lying in his previous statements to the OTP investigators. Haradinaj’s defense lawyer focused on the witness’s claims about the fate of one Serb and two Roma prisoners. The witness claimed that the three KLA commanders – Ramush Haradinaj, Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj – beat those prisoners severely in Jablanica. Haradinaj, Balaj and Brahimaj are on trial for crimes committed there.

In his evidence before the court this week, the witness said that he and other KLA members took the three prisoners to a local make-shift hospital. The prisoners died there soon afterwards, as a consequence of torture. The witness and his colleagues then took their bodies to the Radonjic lake and threw them into it. In his statement to the investigators, however, the witness claimed the prisoners were still alive when they were left by the lake. Also, in his statement from November 2010 the witness said that in one of his next visits to Jablanica he didn’t witness the abuse of a detained Serb police officer. Mere days later, the witness corrected his statement saying that he was present when Brahimaj beat police officer Nenad Remistar with a baseball bat.

The witness tried to explain that the inconsistencies were caused by his fear of the Serbian police. The witness gave a statement to prosecutor Rogers in the police building in Belgrade, in the presence of a female police officer and a Serb prosecutor. The witness claimed both that he was scared of the Serbian police and that he had complete trust in the female police officer, who worked in the Serbian MUP. The witness then made his evidence even more complicated when he said that his fear was gone once he was left alone with prosecutor Rogers, in other words, when the woman he trusted was gone. Defense counsel Emmerson showed parts of an official note made by the prosecution in which prosecutor Rogers says that ‘a woman from the police and a man from the public prosecutor’s office were present at all times while the witness was giving his statement’.

There were frequent verbal skirmishes in the cross-examination today. Just as he did yesterday, the defense counsel repeatedly accused the witness of ‘lying and fabricating claims’. The witness retorted that the lawyer was ‘rude’, adding, ‘you yourself is lying’. This time, however, the witness didn’t swear at the lawyer – at least not in parts of the hearing open to the public. Nevertheless, portions of the cross-examination today were redacted, especially at points when the witness raised his voice.

The hearing was interrupted halfway into the session, because the ‘witness is not able to go on with his evidence’, as the presiding judge explained. Since the beginning of this week, the witness has often asked for breaks in his testimony.