Protected witness testifying at the trial of former KLA members claims that after his release from the Lapusnik camp in late July 1998 he was taken to the Urosevac police station where he was first questioned about where he was and what he saw and then beaten

Isak Musliu, Hajradin Bala and Fatmir Limaj in the courtroomIsak Musliu, Hajradin Bala and Fatmir Limaj in the courtroom

After his release from the KLA Lapusnik camp in late July 1998, protected witness L-10 was taken to the Urosevac police station and questioned about where he was and what he saw. While he was there, he claims, he was beaten, and none of the things he said about his abduction and detention (during which his uncle was killed) was noted down, it seems. The OTP has asked the Serbian authorities to provide documents about the questioning of the witness, but Belgrade replied that there were no records of it in the Ministry of the Interior, the State Security Service and the Yugoslav Army archive.

Protected witness L-10 is a Kosovo Albanian who found himself in KLA detention in the summer of 1998 in circumstances that were not made public. Most of his testimony at the trial of former KLA members accused of crimes in the Lapusnik camp was conducted in closed session. On rare occasions when he testified in open session, the witness identified two of the three accused. He knew Haradin Bala a/k/a Shala as a camp guard who brought food to the detainees and beat them. He also knew that “Commander Çeliku” was the officer that visited him twice in the camp, asked him “why [he] was there” and promised he would be released. He later learned that his name was Fatmir Limaj.

He appears to have seen the third accused, Isak Musliu, in the camp, wearing the KLA military police uniform. He heard Shala call him “Qerqiz”, but as he always wore a mask on his face the witness did not even try to identify him in the courtroom.

Despite promises by “Commander Çeliku” that he would be released, the witness remained in the camp until, as he claims, the KLA withdrawal from Lapusnik in the face of the Serbian offensive on 28 July 1998. Some twenty remaining prisoners – Kosovo Albanians – were taken to the Berisha mountain and divided into two groups: half of them were released and half of them were killed. The people from the first group, including the witness, got a piece of paper which said, as he explained, that they were released on the orders of “Commander Çeliku”.

In the cross-examination. Limaj’s defense counsel asked the witness if he had kept the paper, but the witness said that upon return to his village he had “wadded the paper up and threw it away.” The cross-examination was mostly conducted in closed session, just like the examination-in-chief, so it is impossible to tell whether the defense counsel of the three accused managed to shake the witness or impeach his testimony.