Haradinaj walks

The Hague has acquitted former Kosovo PM Ramush Haradinaj of various horrible war crimes.

This is not much of a surprise. One, while the case against the KLA leadership generally is pretty strong, the case against Haradinaj personally wasn’t so much. Two, Haradinaj put up an aggressive and very competent defense. And three, various witnesses were assaulted, intimidated, or otherwise convinced to change their stories. Testifying against a popular KLA commander-turned-popular politician: not so easy.

In this context, I should probably give a link to the recent Human Rights Watch report noting that the criminal justice system in Kosovo still sucks. The report mentions intimidation of witnesses as a particular problem. Which is no surprise to anyone who’s spent much time in Kosovo.

That said, I’m not sure they would have been able to nail Haradinaj even if everyone had testified. He’s a very smart, very charming guy; he put up a very good defense; and the standard for conviction is very high. The prosecutors case consisted of a lot of “bad things happened when you were around, you were in charge, you would have to have known” type stuff… ironically, a bit similar to the way they tried to make the case against Milosevic a few years back. If Slobo had lived, he might have walked on most of his counts too.

Anyway. In the usual zero-sum way of Balkan politics, the Serbs are going nuts — all parties united; everyone agrees that this totally proves the Hague is victor’s justice — while the Albanians are dancing in the streets. Longer term… well, Haradinaj will be back in politics now. He was actually a pretty good Prime Minister during his brief term. It’s not clear how much of that was telling the international community what it wanted to hear, and how much was sincere. We may soon find out.

In other Balkan news, the Greeks vetoed Macedonia’s entry into NATO, but Croatia and Albania got in. Probably worth a post, but I have a limited quota for arguments with Greek nationalists (“yes, your country has ethnic minorities… no, really it does…”) and I’ve about used it up.

This entry was posted in A Fistful Of Euros, Terrorism and tagged , , by Douglas Muir. Bookmark the permalink.

About Douglas Muir

American with an Irish passport. Does development work for a big international donor. Has been living in Eastern Europe for the last six years -- first Serbia, then Romania, and now Armenia. Calls himself a Burkean conservative, which would be a liberal in Germany but an unhappy ex-Republican turned Democrat in the US. Husband of Claudia. Parent of Alan, David, Jacob and Leah. Likes birds. Writes Halfway Down The Danube. Writes Halfway Down The Danube.

36 thoughts on “Haradinaj walks

  1. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Kosovo: Ramush Haradinaj Acquitted

  2. Doug, why file this post under terrorism?

    On another matter, this case was bound to crumble. Most of it was based on evidence that Belgrade had gathered for the tribunal in their attempt to prove that all parties were to blame and thus Serbs were just your average criminal. By taking Haradinaj from his PM post and sending him to Hague Serbs lost a man that believed in their rights in Kosova and that was willing to sacrifice some of his weight with his followers to do more for the Serbs. Oh well!

  3. Your article is laughable. I thin beore you write a staement like this you should do your research. Ramush haradinaj was acquitted because he was an innocent man. The indictment was widely regarded as the weakest ever brought before the ICTY and the case that the proceutors produced was the reason he was acquitted. Their only witness were known serb war criminals and written statements from Albanians during their torture under serbian hand (what reliable witnesses. The defence did not even need to call one witness as the prosecutors did not prove their case. Considering the resources that the ICTY have it is quite clear that if there was any evidence against Ramush Haradinaj they would have found it. Yet they did not have one piece of evidence against him that showed he was in any way linked to war criminals. As Ben Emerson stated in his opening speech. Ramush Haradinaj fought an honourable war and now everyone in the world knows he did. Also there has never before been someone endicted for such a large amount of counts get and full acquittal and a unanimous acquittal. I have watched so much of this trial and i can say for sure that your article has no factual basis and looks a lot like bitterness from where im standing.

  4. Standard for conviction high, ha! What about the Joint Criminal Enterprise Doctrine that says that if those who share your political goals commit crimes, therefore you are guilty of said crimes. It would have been an easy matter to snare Ramush in this way had they wanted to. They did not want to, however. That’s not how the ICTY works.

    The purpose is to claim Serbs to have all participated in conspiracies with its goal to commit atrocities. Those who attack the Serbs, in contrast, were waging legitimate wars and any crimes were incidental and the higher-ups aren’t even guilty according to the Doctrine of Command Responsibility, let alone the Joint Criminal Enterprise novelty created for the Milosevic case specifically.

  5. I am sorry Mr. R, but you forget one major point of the Joint Criminal Enterprise Doctrine, which is the chain of responsibility. On top of this, saying that the ICTY works against such nationality or such other is really weak. The obvious interest of the UN and of the ICTY, if they could rig the trials, would be to have people indicted on both sides, because it would help legitimize themselves. Justice needs evidence, whether you like it or not. If there is no evidence, there is no trial. That’s all. Milosevic was not tried completely because he took his own life, hence we will never know if the ICTY had a serious case against him. I don’t know and we will probably never know. Though I would say the fact that he chose the exit does not plead in his favor.

  6. Doug, I think an important detail was left out in your post. Ramush Haradinaj *voluntarily* handed himself to the ICTY within 24 hours of being indicted, resigned gracefully and called for calm from the people of Kosovo. In the Balkans this is quite something.

    The blame game has already started. However, in my opinion the answer is very simple: Serbia has not been able to build a case against Haradinaj and there was absolutely no evidence linking Ramush to any war crimes. There is no point in Serbia crying to ICTY — if they’re so convinced he was guilty where was the evidence to link him to these crimes?

    Haradinaj’s team were so confident that they did not did not invite any defense witnesses. Quite a statement, ah?

    When Haradinaj became the Prime Minister he used his authority and personality to reign over individual ministers that run their departments as if they were their private businesses. The results were impressive. More importantly, Haradinaj was prepared to make major moves to accommodate Serb demands and he had the authority and the courage to do it. Instead, less than 100 days into his premiership he left voluntarily to the Hague.

    Hashim Thaci knows that he has to meet a lot of these demands, most are actually part of the Ahtisaari — so hated by the Serbs — plan, but I believe Thaci to be a lot more clever politically and over the years I have been convinced that he’s a master at winning people over with his political maneuvers.

    Kosovar Serbs who are familiar with internal Kosovan politics would bite your hand off if you offered them Haradinaj over Thaci. For this reason I think that Serbs are angry that KLA has not been proven guilty over these crimes rather than Haradinaj individually.

    Finally, the timing of Haradinaj’s return is not good politically for him. He did not sign the Independence Declaration of February 17 and by the time the next elections are held — probably in 4 years or so — the Hague victory effect will have almost disappeared. In other words, I do not expect any major change in the Kosovar political landscape as a result of this ruling.

  7. That mass grave in Donji Ratis discovered on 9 September 1998 in Commander Ramush’s zone of course probably wasn’t even subject to ICTY investigation let alone a trial.. the bodies in that canal and that lake there…

    The ICTY is anti-Serb because it makes a judgment on the politics of the region that fits in with Western declarations on the subjects. That is, that the secessions of BiH and Croatia, despite these being against their respective constitutions, were legitimate and wars waged and atrocities committed during the course of these wars were thus legitimate. Some lower-ranking people can get convicted for individual crimes, but these do not reflect on the leaderships in general.

    In contrast, Serbian activities during this period to resist the secessions and to help the Serbs in these territories secede from these what were provinces of Yugoslavia so that they could stay there, these were declared by the West to be illegitimate policies. Thus, these became Joint Criminal Enterprises and atrocities and crimes became the very purpose of Serbian activities planned from the very top.

    This is all very political. Who is to say that the Serbs were not right, that the secessionists were leading Joint Criminal Enterprises to illegally break out of Yugoslavia and to commit atrocities in so doing, particularly Croatia influenced as it was by the ideology of Ante Starcevic and that carried out purges of Serbs from professions, police, banned Cyrillic script and expelled a couple of hundred thousand of them from government-run Croatia through 1990-91?

    The ICTY is judging not about atrocities, it’s judging about who followed the West’s orders. It’s inconsistent. They conviced Radislav Krstic of genocide because he so-happened to take command of the Drina Corps during the middle of the Srebrenica events. They had no conclusive proof that he was directing any of that but they said that as he was officially head of the Drina Corps, he is guilty. Folks like Commander Ramush and Delalic in contrast are said to be blameless for the activities of subordinates. Not surprisingly, these decisions protected other Nato favourites. It’s no surprise; as Jamie Shea famously said, “Nato countries are the majority financiers”.

  8. Doug the point you made about all Serbian political parties condemning the verdict. It wasn’t only Serbian political parties, it was the Serbian NGO sector including Natasa Kandic, Sonja Biserko et al.

    I think that the verdict was a defeat for the victims (Serb, Albanian and Roma) of Haradinaj and his goons and for human rights generally.

    It was also a defeat for the concept of international justice. Obviously the way to defeat charges at the Hague is to threaten witnesses.

    In the end its ordinary Albanians I feel sorry for. He’s coming back and they will have to live with men like Haradinaj. I’d prefer to have men like Haradinaj taken off the streets so us normal people are safer. Not my problem anymore I suppose.

  9. I’d also advise everybody to read the judgment against Haradinaj and company in full available at the ICTY site.

    The judges obviously believed, as I do, that witness intimidation (and not anti Serb bias, or that Haradinaj was innocent) was a primary factor in his being freed.

    The Hague prosecution alleged that they could not get 100 witnesses to testify. Who knows what they would have said, were they free to testify.

    I can only imagine what it must be like living in such a situation where one has to be careful what one says above all other considerations, including telling the truth.

  10. Mr. R – you’re wrong about what was and was not considered in the judgement. Before you rush to false conclusions, I would urge you to read the judgement. It’s available online at
    http://www.un.org/icty/haradinaj/jug84-e.htm

    Witness intimidation was a big problem, as the judges also noted, But there were also a lot of other problems with the evidence in this case. One example concerns those bodies recovered from the Radonjic Lake canal. Haradinaj was charged with responsibility for 30 murders, on the basis of the bodies recovered from the canal by Serbian police in September 1998. But only 10 of those bodies were identified at the time, using visual identification (clothing, artefacts, height and weight, general appearance etc.). Unlike the Serbian police, the Hague investigators took the extra step to check those identifications. They located the buried bodies of the identified victims, had the remains exhumed and then checked each of them against the DNA in blood samples donated by surviving relatives. The DNA testing confirmed the original identifications for only 3 of those bodies; the DNA from relatives did not match the DNA from any of the other 7 sets of remains exhumed — these were not the bodies of the persons under whose names they had been buried. There were problems with much of the rest of the evidence as well. The judges note: “The evidence before the Trial Chamber with regard to perpetrators and circumstance of many of the alleged murders is vague, inconclusive, or simply non-existent.”

    By contrast, the evidence presented in court in the Milosevic case was a great deal more damning. Although, as we know, the Milosevic trial never reached a final verdict, there was what is known as a Rule 98 bis decision — a decision on a motion for acquittal — at the end of the prosecution’s case, on 16 June 2004. In a Rule 98 bis decision, the judges rule on whether the prosecution has presented sufficient proof to support the charges in the indictment. That decision is also available on the Tribunal’s website. It shows that in the judges’ opinion the evidence presented in court against Milosevic was sufficient for a conviction and that the accused had a case to answer.

    http://www.un.org/icty/milosevic/trialc/judgement/index.htm

    But in presenting his defense Milosevic did not, for the most part bother to challenge the evidence related to the specific charges against him. He was too busy making political speeches and accusing various other parties of having committed (worse) crimes. That being the case, my informed guess is that — if the trial had reached its conclusion (the defense case was almost over by the time he died) — Milosevic would probably have been convicted on the most serious charges.

    Note also that the judges in the Milosevic case had read and considered the unredacted minutes of the meetings of the Supreme Defense Council — the same material that the Belgrade gov’t (successfully) fought to keep from being disclosed to the judges at the ICJ in the Bosnian genocide trial. If that SDC material were not so damaging, there would have been no reason for Belgrade to fight so tenaciously (to this day) to keep the unredacted SDC minutes from being revealed.

  11. Hmm… So Haradinaj was innocent.. and nine murdered witnessed is just an accident, right? No witness intimidation and nine murdered witnesses are just coincidence…

  12. I didn’t say Haradinaj was innocent. He walked out of court a free man because there wasn’t enough evidence available to convict him. The lack of evidence was due in part to those intimidated and murdered witnesses. But there was also the lack of cooperation from UNMIK, and the dubious quality of the evidence that was eventually handed over to Hague investigators by the Serbian authorities who were (and remain) much more interested in scoring propaganda points than in bringing the guilty to justice. Only in the movies does truth and justice always triumph in the end. In real life, satisfactory endings are less common. All too often, Mafia dons, warlords, murderous thugs and ex-presidents all too often manage to escape the consequences of their deeds. That doesn’t necessarily mean the courts are fixed or unfair — but judges have to base their verdict on the evidence presented to them in court, not by what “everyone knows” to be true.

  13. I have a feeling that the alternative reality presented in the comments here will echo throughout the extreme left proponents on the internet from now on. “9 witnesses killed” is RTS and Tanjug propaganda. 1 was killed, and he was Albanian. Yes, that makes the case for intimidation, but if you read the case, it clearly says that the prosecution could have made the case if they had a case with the rest of the witnesses they had.

    Serbs were a sideshow to the whole trial so I don’t see why all the fuss from some Serbs here. I presume they are concerned with the building of a rightful society in Kosova.

  14. Ari: this is what I’ve read.

    “In addition, the leading prosecution witness, commander of UCK’s rival rebel formation called FARK, Tahir Zemaj, his son and nephew were shot and killed during the investigation and another witness, Kujtim Berisha, died two weeks before the trial when he was hit by a car in Montenegro. Ilir Seljmaj was killed by a knife after a staged bar fight in which he had aparently attacked six people before they stabbed him. Bekim Mustafa and Auni Eljezaj were killed in shotgun attacks, while Sabaheta Tava and Isuk Hakljaj were killed in an assassination plot after which the cars with their bodies were put in flames.”

    So, you are saying out of those 9 quoted examples, 8 is propaganda?

  15. Link? I googled you quote and I could only found a Serb propaganda website having that quote. You made my point about the propaganda.

    Moreover, I only see Albanians mentioned there. In the best case it’s a FARK vs. UCK thing. Why are Serbs so upset?

  16. “the leading prosecution witness, commander of UCK’s rival rebel formation called FARK, Tahir Zemaj, his son and nephew were shot and killed during the investigation”

    Tahir Zemaj was killed in early January 2003. It was the second assassination attempt; the first one had been several months earlier, in August 2002.

    At that time, the case against Haradinaj barely existed. The investigation had only just begun. Haradinaj wasn’t indicted until 2005, more than two years later.

    Plenty of KLA leaders died in dubious circumstances — including Haradinaj’s own brother, killed in a drive-by shooting. So, absent additional evidence, I’m not inclined to think the Zemaj shooting was about Haradinaj’s case… and even if it was, Zemaj’s son and nephew seem to have had absolutely nothing to do with it.

    That said, the “nine dead witnesses” has already found its way into Haradinaj’s Wikipedia article. No, wait, it’s ten there. Hum.

    N.B., none of this is to deny there was witness intimidation. Clearly there was. But the image of witnesses being slaughtered left and right by the omnipotent KLA seems to be a large exaggeration.

    Doug M.

  17. I should add that, until early 2005, nobody really thought the ICTY would indict Haradinaj. Haradinaj himself was clearly surprised by it. So I’d be a little skeptical of any deaths before early 2005 being related to the investigation.

    @Ari, it’s a little disingenous to ask “why are Serbs so upset”. A lot of Serbs were killed in Kosovo, many in some fairly horrible ways. A few Kosovar Albanians have been convicted of some of these crimes, but no top leaders. That’s something to be legitimately upset about.

    Doug M.

  18. Doug,

    Absolutely! But this case dealt only minimally with Serb victims; likewise with all other cases against KLA soldiers. It seems like the Serb anger is completely misplaced in time and object: prosecution’s case was closed long time ago and it charged the three with all it could. Serbs too did all they could to provide the evidence. So why the anger at the court?

    Serb fury is not because they couldn’t win justice, but because they lost the case against a KLA commander. It was about discrediting the KLA war. And Carla played into this so she could get concessions from Belgrade.

  19. It’s funny how everyone seems to be forgetting Carla del Ponte herself told the president of NATO, that there was no evidence against ramush haradinaj that would suggest he had committed War Crimes and then suddenly, without any new evidence indicted him for war crimes the minute he was elected prime minister. So what had changed here? If there was no new evidence and the Prosecutor herself had said that this evidence in no way indicated that Ramush was guilty of being involved in War Crimes, then why was he indicted? Hmmmmmm i wonder? Could it be because indicting the prime minister of kosovo would be a much better bartering tool in the hope that the serbs hand over Mladic and Karadzic. Beacause to me this is the only logical reasoning.

    And considering Carla del ponte admitted that there was no evidence to suggest he was guilty of war crimes. How then could she go against the laws of the ICTY by publically stating that “i know Ramush Haradinaj is guilty and i have the evidence to prove it”. Here not only does she contradict her own statment to NATO but also directly violates the laws of the tribunal. I think this along with her unproven and ludicrous statements of witness intimidation and even more so, saying that witnesses were being murdered is an utter sign of her desperation for a conviction. One witness that she claimed was murdered because of the indictment was killed before the indictment was ever issued. Before anyone knew that he was to be indicted. I suppose his psychic powers came inot play here. The second witness that she publically announced had been murdered was killed in a car crash by a drunk driver, this was investigated and found to be an accident. Instead of releasing this to the press she failed to give the details of the death and said that the witness had been murdered. The reason she failed to give the cause of his death was because this witness was listed and therefore she knew that because of this protection, the defence team could not go public on the cause of death. So she deliberately mislead the media and therefore the public for her own gain, depite knowing that she was lying. Again here she was in direct violation of the tribual and because she enjoyed total immunity she will not be held responsible for her actions. Which is a disgrace and maybe says something about givnng a person complete and utter immunity and the fact that no one, not even those who are supposed to uphold the law can ingnore this type of power.

    Her desperation even caused her to lie to the trail chamber about a serb general who had been treated as a war criminal in the Milosevic case. When the Prosecutors tried to call him as a witness, the defence clearly objected, on the grounds that he could not be seen as reliable due to the charges agaianst him. The prosecutors denied this even though records clearly stated that Carla del ponte treated this general as a war criminal and not only that but the prosecutor of the milosovic trial wrote to the trial chamber to say that they were lying.And that Carla del Ponte had asked him not to question said general during the milosevic in order to preserve his credibility for the haradinaj case. Hmmmm, does anyone smell preverting the course of justice.

    Ramush haradinaj was not acquitted because of any inequalities in the ICTY. Infact Mrs. Del P’s gross misconducted quite clearly proves that she was desperate to convict Ramush, what ever the evidence. She broke the laws of the tibunal she so deeply revered. She lied to the trial chamber. She withheld evidence, and even after all this trickery and treachery, the woman still had no leg to stand on. Not one piece of evidence to say that Ramushg Haradinaj was guilty. This trial was a complete farce right from the start when that ridicualous indictment was brought against ramush haradianj, it’s only saving grace being the ruling. He was acquitted on points of law not bias towards Kosovo. Anyone who has and objective opiniopn and had the liberty to actually watch the trial that has a different opinion please do say, because at least you have and educated opinion. However for those of you that are basing their opinions on the what they have read in the newspapers, Carla del ponte’s book or statements made by the prosecutors, i think you need to watch the trial in full and see for yourself how misguided you are.

  20. Ari I can’t speak on behalf of Serbs but as a human being I am upset by the Haradinaj verdict.

    I am upset on behalf of all of his victims – Albanian, Serb and Roma who deserve justice. I feel particularly sorry for the relatives of Kosovo Serbs and Albanians who have to live knowing that this man and his goons are walking the same streets. That this man can essentially decide to do the same thing today in Kosovo – the evidence for this is the threatening of witnesses.

    Perhaps the question should be posed not as to why Serbs, or those that care about human rights, are angry, rather, why are Kosovo Albanians not upset about Haradinaj being released. I think this is the real issue here. And it points to the failure of Kosovo’s governing authorities and a fundamental concern about freedom to express opinion due to fear.

  21. Bganon, Kosovar Albanians are not upset that Ramush Haradinaj has been released as he is the one man that stood up to fight for their human Rights. Even if you take a look at Serbian support for Haradinaj in Kosovo you can see that it is quite obvious that his inclusive thinking as a political leader, his promotiopn of the serb language and integration of all ethinc groups in Kosovo. Thsi is a man who has lef tthe war behind him, he in no way uses his polpularity to promote opression nor does he condon mindless acts of violance. His goal is for a united Kosovo, not to rid the serbs or roma civilians in Kosovo. After the war he showed the world that he had no interest in carrying on th violance when he set up hios party that veered away from right wing independence and ran on policies promotibg education, health and the development of Kosovo as a nation, bringing together all peoples. He has much support from Kosovar serbs and it is mainly the serbs from Serbia that hold all this hatred for him. Which you would find unusual considering he is one of the only politicians in Kosovo that is concerned with the intergration of Roma and Serbs. Propaganda is an evil tool and this is what has been so damaging for Ramush Haradinaj. People see him as this Baby eater and someone who sells organs of the people killed during the war but if you look at all his actions during the war and after: his blatent and proven punishment of those who had comitted crimes against humanity, His efforts to change Kosovo for the better for all it’s people, not just Kosovar albanians. His passion to unite the whole of Kosovo and leave the war behind them. All of these actions go against the image that has been portrayed to us by this hate filled propaganda. To me it makes no sense to believe in something that there is no proof of. There was not one shred of evidence that the ICTY could find that Ramush Haradinaj was guilty and considering the can take Hearsay and written statements as factual evidence, unlike a national criminal court where the standard of conviction is much higher and every other piece of evidence point to the fact that this man is not the monster that he is portrayed to be, He has only ever had one aim and that is a free and united Kosovo. He has proved himself as a compassionate politician who faught this war out of naccessity, and now rather then continue to encourage violance, he encourages unity, integration, and inclusive thinking.

  22. Thats a nice story Kate but I know a little more about the way Kosovo is run. Even putting aside his war conduct its not difficult to see where his power base comes from and why it is only concentrated in a given area, as it is for other popular Kosovo Albanian politicians.
    We are talking about fifedoms. About people with control over a given area whether it is concerning trade or anything else.

    Setting up a political party does not mean that one renounces violence. Arkan set up a political party after the fighting stopped and I didn’t respect him for it. In fact quite the opposite, these militiamen / mafiosi do this to make sure that they are protected, so that they can continue to have the power they did during war.
    And, respectfully you can save the stories about Serbs supporting him, because it doesn’t wash. Belgrade is not separate from Kosovo in the sense you think. Belgrade is awash with Kosovo Serb refugees and one can quite easily find out what they think by speaking to them. They do not like Haradinaj and I don’t blame them.

    The reason why no evidence was found was due to the fact that witnesses were threatened. Why do you not address that fact? I don’t agree that the standard of conviction at the Hague is low. The evidence suggests the opposite. I have been following the Hague process from the beginning, so think I have the necessary knowledge to judge. I know that some people only switch on to see ‘their’ heroes but I’ve been watching the trials of Bosnians, Croatians, Serbs, Albanians etc.

    No, what you need to do is to speak to some Kosovo Albanians who have knowledge of who people like Haradinaj are and are willing to talk honestly about it. My information on people like him in Kosovo is mostly gained from internationals and Albanians. Unless you know what I’m saying is true but you just don’t want to admit it here.

    I think if you stand for the values you outlined its best to support a civilian politician rather than a former warlord. Its a personal thing for me as well. I just don’t like being ruled by killers, whether they are supposed heroes or war criminals.

  23. Dear bganon:

    Could you please provide a source (not a weblink) to support the following claim:

    “The judges obviously believed, as I do, that witness intimidation … was a primary factor in his being freed.”

    What I am looking for is the words equivalent to “obviously believe” and “primary factor.”

    It’s quite a powerful statement and I would like to see what you can come up with.

    Many thanks.

  24. Fidel do you disagree that witness intimidation was used?
    Read the judgment in full and read between the lines. It is not difficult to draw conclusions.

    Do you believe that 100 odd witnesses would have made no difference? The prosecution doesn’t and nor does anybody with an ounce of impartiality. I’d say that no matter who was being tried.

    This from SENSE is interesting also:

    http://www.sense-agency.com/en/stream.php?sta=3&pid=11099&kat=3

  25. bganon,

    I think we have something in common: I would like to see all those responsible for any crime — not just the big fish — face justice in front of a fair and impartial court regardless of their ethnicity. I honestly would like to see all those responsible for crimes where they belong, ie not amongst us the innocent victims of the break-up of Yugoslavia. If Haradinaj were guilty of these crimes I honestly would not be happy that he walked free, but I have no “inside information” that he was guilty and I trust the Hague to judge him.

    Now, this is where we part.

    I asked for some evidence that the judges — not some potentially biased journalist — stated that they believed that witness intimidation was “a primary factor” in their judgment. I am yet to be see such evidence.

    Let me make it absolutely clear, I am not a specialist on legal matters but I know that judgments some in two shapes: guilty or not guilty. I see no reason why judges should have to “hide” a message “between the lines.”

    Finally, I think every single case that is being judged at the Hague tribunal has faced witness intimidation. Every single case without any exception. If you believe that witness intimidation was an issue only in the Haradinaj case then you must be very naive — but I know that you’re not naive, so the problem lies elsewhere. Personally I believe that if there was any major intimidation it was not on Haradinaj’s orders, but more from fellow Albanians intend on defending the liberation war of the KLA. And I would be absolutely shocked if some Haradinaj connection was able to murder — by means of a car accident — a Roma witness in Podgorica and not leave any trace whatsoever (a case which is often mentioned by the Serbian and pro-Serbian sources).

    As a closing remark, I salute your stance on justice for all regardless of ethnicity. But remember justice is not 50-50, ie one Albanian in jail for every Serb or Croat or Bosniak found guilty.

  26. Fidel if you trust the Hague’s findings on Haradinaj as you say this is from the judges report:
    ‘The Trial Chamber gained a strong
    impression that the trial was being held in an atmosphere where witnesses felt unsafe’

    The full report is here:
    http://www.un.org/icty/haradinaj/trialc/judgement/tcj080403e.pdf

    I advise you to read parts of it if you want to speak about the Haradinaj case with any authority.

    The prosecution stated that around 100 witnesses did not testify due to intimidation. We know who Haradinaj is so he doesnt need to murder anybody but since you asked:

    ‘Mr. Alec Mally, Acting Chief of Mission of the U.S. Office Pristina, strongly condemned the murder of Mr. Tahir Zemaj, his son Enis Zemaj, and his nephew Hasan Zemaj, head of the LDK Youth Forum in Decan, on January 4 in Peja/Pec.

    http://pristina.usembassy.gov/press20030106.html

    Now perhaps witness intimidation has occurred in other Hague trials but the Haradinaj et al trial is by far the worst. If you don’t believe me check the judgment of all other trials and see for yourself. Only in this case do the judges mention it as a ‘central’ factor.

    As for your not being a specialist on law, that is a very weak argument indeed. Nobody has to be a specialist to understand the way witness intimidation works and the way it can influence a judgment. I don’t know if Haradinaj directly threatened or not, its irrelevant as the result is the same – people that have likely been traumatised already by war are terrified that something will happen to their families. Did you see any of the testimony Fidel. It was an absolute joke, with witnesses coming and going, mumbling their testimony, changing their stories, suddenly claiming to be very sick in the witness box (I bet they felt sick, poor people) refusing to walk into the court room, running away to the US. Almost comical if it were not a matter of life and death.

    There is no line to draw between us here. Its a matter of being human and of knowing what 2 plus 2 adds up to.

    In some of my debating with you I’m sometimes given the impression that you don’t inform yourself as well as you could on topics you write about here. With respect you should do so more. You should not rely on me to provide links and quotes.

    I do believe you when you say that you don’t want murderers (war criminals etc) on the streets. That is precisely my concern in this case.

  27. Greetings bganon,

    You have still failed to provide me with evidence that the judges “obviously believed” that witness intimidation was a “primary factor” in their judgement.

    “Believe” and “primary factor” are very strong statements and I am yet to see any material that led you to those flawed conclusions. My conclusions were different and that was the reason why I kindly asked you to enlighten me by providing me with proofs that that’s what the judges “believed”. I was interested to know what led to these conclusions rather than asking about general information regarding the Haradinaj et al case. I did not come across the above-mentioned strong statement in the judgement.

    Next, you failed to point out that the Zemajs were murdered in January 2003. Haradinaj’s indictment was not issued until March 2005, ie over two years later or more precisely 26 months later. Its a bit far-fetched to try and link his Hague trial with these murders. Moreover, I failed to see any connection between these gruesome murders and Haradinaj. Make no mistake about it, I am not a fan of Haradinaj, but I don’t think it’s useful to make groundless allegations if one is not in a position to provide proof that links an individual or a group with a crime.

    As I said in my previous post, judgments come in two shapes: guilty or not guilty. One cannot claim to speak with greater authority than the judges of the case. This was my point in the previous post. I cannot possibly be more authoritative than the judges of the case and for this reason I trust them in their judgement, ie not guilty.

    I do respect the manner in which you conduct yourself though, bganon.

    Kind regards,

    Fidel

  28. ‘You have still failed to provide me with evidence that the judges “obviously believed” that witness intimidation was a “primary factor” in their judgement.’

    Quite the contrary Fidel, I provided you with that damning quote ‘The Trial Chamber gained a strong
    impression that the trial was being held in an atmosphere where witnesses felt unsafe’.
    There is more in the judgment.

    ‘I am yet to see any material that led you to those flawed conclusions’.

    Fidel that is because you have not read the material (judgment) have you? I am not going to do it for you.

    I asked you if you saw any of the testimony? It was a complete joke, as I pointed out.

    I cannot make you read the report of course, but a defence that you have not seen any evidence supporting one thing or another is meaningless if you don’t look for yourself. I mean how are you in a position to know whether allegations are ‘groundless’ or not if you did’t watch the trial or read the judgment??? Is that on guesswork, or based on proof?

    No there are many instances of witness intimidation, names, places and events that went on in the Hague and elsewhere. If that bothers you, you will find out about it. If you want to act dumb then you will choose to do that instead.

  29. OK, OK, bganon. I see that I am beginning to annoy you a little, but I cannot let you get away with this logic which in my opinion is flawed.

    I will need to quote you again. You stated that “the judges obviously believed, as I do, that witness intimidation … was a primary factor in his being freed.”

    The quote that you provide, damning though it is, is absolutely nowhere near the strong statement that you made. The judges stated that some witnesses felt unsafe, but they did not state that that was the reason why Haradinaj was found not guilty — which is what you are claiming.

    It is one thing to say that some “witnesses felt unsafe” and completely another thing to say that “because some witnesses felt unsafe the accused was found not guilty.”

    Now, let me clarify myself here because there seems to be some misunderstanding in your side.

    I am not claiming anything here, remember. I am merely questioning your line of logic. I believe the Hague Tribunal to be a neutral and unbiased court and I fully accept their judgment regarding the Haradinaj case — and every other case for that matter. Now, when you said that the judges “believed” in something that was not in the judgement then I kindly asked you to provide the sources of such information — I am yet to see it. Moreover, I am not in the business of foreseeing the future, and I believe neither are the judges. So, neither me nor the judges can possibly know for certain what certain witnesses might have said and how their statements would have stood the rigorous questioning by the Haradinaj’s legal team. It is therefore rather stupid to state that the judges believed that that was the reason why Haradinaj was found not guilty. Nonetheless, I was very polite and did not set off in an aggressive attack against you (read again my first post to prove this) because you seem a sensible kind of guy and maybe most of us missed a very pivotal part of this judgement, but looking at the sources you provided I am left with no option but to believe that your conclusions were flawed.

    For your information, I have followed the case, I watched live the reading of the judgement and read (a lot of) the document you quoted.

    We will just have to agree to disagree on this one. I strongly believe your conclusions to be flawed, ie that the judges “believed” that witness intimidation was the “primary factor” why Haradinaj was found not guilty. Judges could not possibly judge based on predications about what could have been said in court if…

    This will be my last post on the matter.

    All the best,

    Fidel

  30. Hi Fidel, Can i just say i completely agree with you. Yes the judge did say that there was a huge sense of fear surrounding the witnesses in this case but for someone to say it is the ‘primary’ reasons for the acquittal of Ramush Haradinaj is ridiculous. I know you are not a fan of Haradinaj for want of a better word , but it is ice to see logic in your arguements. I also commend your point when you said
    ‘neither me nor the judges can possibly know for certain what certain witnesses might have said and how their statements would have stood the rigorous questioning by the Haradinaj’s legal team’

    This is so vital when you look at the types of witnesses the prosecution was calling. All known war criminals, many already convicted and the albanians who had been tortured by the serbs into making statements (fact).

    If Bganon thinks for one minute that their testimony would have stood up in court he is very much mistaken. Ben Emmerson would have torn them to shreds, leading to their own conviction as happened to those witnesses who did testify and many would not have even had a chance to testify as they would have been objected to on the grounds that they had been treated as war criminals in other cases.

    Haradinaj was acquitted whether you believe he is guilty or innocent, on the failure of the prosecution to put together any type of convincing/compelling case (as carla del ponte promised in her opening speech. Instead they came to court with evidence that was inadequate, insubstantial and non existent.

    I say it is because ‘there was no conspiracy to commit war crimes, His targets were combatants, not civilians. Ramush haradinaj is not a war criminal, and the prosecutors decision to indict him was unjust” ben Emmerson’s opening speech.

    You see we can all quote bganon, but you need something original in your argument for it to stand up. All i’ve read from you is the same shit Del oonte has been churning out through out this case. And it didnt work for her so why would it work for you.

  31. Haradinaj should have been arrested already in 2000 for his shootout with Musaj.

    As Fidel Pardussi already pointed out, Haradinaj was not just good at pleasing the internationals: he worked hard and pushed others to do the same. And that makes a difference in a government culture where ministers consider an 8 hour working day much too much and they have many other “business interests” to tend to.

  32. bganon. I’m afraid you’re labouring under a terrible misapprehension. There were 100 witnesses CALEED in the case, (actually a little over 100) – not 100 witnesses who refused to appear. In fact, only two of the witnesses who were called didn’t testify – Protected witness 30, who had been committed to a mental health institution at the time he was supposed to give testimony, and one Shefqet Kabashi, who indeed claimed that he was too afraid to testify. I’m not going to go into his reliability, but suffice it to say that when he was initially called to testify he had to be transferred from the prison where he was serving a sentence for (essentially) armed robbery. He then absconded from the Hague, and went missing for several months before he was arrested in North America, whereupon he declined to answer any of the questions put to him by the prosecution. To recap, that’s two, (2) witnesses who didn’t testify.

    All the other 100+ witnesses who were called appeared. The prosecution have NEVER claimed otherwise, so you have either been grossly misinformed, or more likely have misinterpreted what you read. Don’t worry – it could happen to anyone. For a non-native speaker, your English is really quite good.

    As for whether the witnesses who did testify were too terrified to tell “the truth”… well, it’s simply impossible to know one way or another. Your assumptions, however, are just that – assumptions, and have no grounding in the type of verifiable fact that the law needs to deal in. We may never know the absolute truth about Haradinaj, but we do know one thing. In the eyes of the law, he’s an innocent man. I suggest you learn to deal with it.

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