SETTING THE SCENE FOR KLA VICTIMS’ TESTIMONY
With the testimony of Oli Lahtinen – leader of the team investigating the Lapusnik camp case – the prosecutor sets the scene for the testimony of surviving victims and eyewitnesses to crimes the three former KLA commanders and members are charged with.
The first prosecution witness called at the trial of three former KLA members is the leader of the OTP team investigating the Lapusnik case, Oli Lahtinen.
With his testimony, the prosecutor is trying to set the scene for the testimony of surviving victims and other witnesses who will appear before the court to testify about the crimes the three accused - Fatmir Limaj, Isak Musliu and Haradin Bala – are charged with.
According to the indictment, dozens of Serbian and Albanian civilians were unlawfully detained in the Lapusnik camp in the Glogovac municipality between May and July 1998. The prosecution alleges they were abducted, abused, and in some instances killed “simply because they were Serbs”-- or for having “collaborated with the Serbs” and “betrayed the KLA idea” if they were Albanian. The three accused are charged with the murder of 22 civilians from the Lapusnik camp: nine Serbs and 13 Albanians.
Using a series of maps, circular photographs of the camp, and aerials shots of the Lapusnik area, Lahtinen described the location of the property where, according to the prosecution, a make-shift camp existed between May and July 1998. Describing the area on the Pristina-Pec route near the village of Lapusnik, Lahtinen noted that the location of the camp was far away from both the Serbian forces’ combat positions and from KLA check-points and combat positions.
He authenticated documents, photographs, diaries and books found in the homes of the accused during a search operation carried out on 17, 18 and 19 February 2003--the time of their arrests.
Lahtinen, who was in Kosovo several times – the lastest in the summer and fall of 2003 – personally took part in the search of Haradin Bala’s house, while the search concerning the other two accused was carried out by members of his team. In the prosecutor’s opinion, the documents found there prove that the accused belonged to the KLA in the period relevant to the indictment and that they were on active duty.
The first accused, who the indictment says was a regional KLA commander, can be seen in several photographs found during the search of his home in the company of Hashim Taqi, Rexhep Selimi, Shukri Buja and Jakup Krasniqi – all prominent KLA leaders. Haradin Bala, a guard in the Lapusnik camp, and Isak Musliu, commander of the local KLA unit securing the camp, can both be seen in photographs found in their homes wearing uniforms with KLA insignia. The prosecution alleges that Musliu was famous for his knowledge of martial arts. A membership card of the Kosovo Karate Association found in Musliu’s home was used by the prosecutor to corroborate that claim.
The testimony of investigator Oli Lahtinen is set to continue.
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