Former member of in the KLA Main Staff and its spokesperson does not deny that there were “liquidations” of Kosovo Albanians who “collaborated with the Serbian authorities”, but denies vehemently that KLA members committed any crimes or executed any prisoners

Kosovo politician Jakup Krasniqi, former member of the KLA Main Staff and its spokesperson, continued his testimony today at the trial of three men accused of crimes in the Lapusnik camp, claiming that “as far as the political and military leadership knew, no KLA member ever committed a single crime.” He also claims that the Main Staff “never received any information about executions of prisoners by firing squad.” He heard about the executions for the first time in February 2003, when “Fatmir and his friends” were arrested pursuant to an ICTY warrant.

Krasniqi apparently does not think that “liquidations of collaborators” – mentioned in official bulletins of the KLA Main Staff –can be qualified as crimes or executions of prisoners. They were admitted into evidence as prosecution exhibits at the beginning of his testimony at the trial of Fatmir Limaj, Isak Musliu and Haradin Bala. He does not think that such “liquidations” – executions without due process – constitute a breach of the Geneva Conventions and other norms of international humanitarian law. He claims that KLA troops were familiar with those instruments. The International Red Cross, Krasniqi testified, sent in documents that the KLA was to comply with and they became part of “internal operational rules.”

The International Red Cross also submitted a list of missing persons who were suspected of being detained by the KLA. Krasniqi testified that the Main Staff forwarded that list to regional staffs and units. However, the witness added, “the list did not state when and where those people were taken”, and due to communication problems with KLA elements, “it was impossible to determine whether they had indeed been captured by organized KLA forces.” Krasniqi also pointed to the possibility that the “Belgrade regime infiltrated civilians among its military and police forces, who might have been killed fighting with the KLA and then declared missing.”

In an interview for Koha Ditore in September 1998 Krasniqi answered the question about the kidnapping of Serbian reporters and civilians by saying that “it is impossible to control the feelings of hatred and revenge engendered by the enemy”. Today, when the prosecutor invited him to clarify that statement, he answered that he is “honored to be able to say that the KLA never took revenge on Serbian civilians.” He did allow the possibility that “some people who did not belong to the KLA did not control their emotions.”

Jakup Krasniqi’s testimony will continue with the cross-examination of this unwilling prosecution witness by the defense counsel of the three accused. They are charged with the detention, torture and abuse of Serbian and Albanian civilians and the killing of 22 civilians between early May and late July 1998.