Former PM to face War Crimes trial at The Hague. And tomorrow?

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    21st July 2010

    UPDATE: UN DECISION – KOSOVAN INDEPENDENCE IS LEGAL

    WAR CRIMES TRIAL FOR FORMER PM & COLLEAGUES

    Don’t get excited littlies. It’s not one of our former prime ministers (and colleagues.) Not Blair/Straw/Goldsmith. Not Blair/Campbell/HM Queen Elizabeth.  Not Blair/Brown/Cameron. Not … oh, use your imagination, as usual.

    At an appeal against earlier judgements at the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia a judgement has been handed down partially qaushing the acquitals of the former prime minister and two others. The three men have been retained in custody.

    ICTY – report: ‘Haradinaj, Balaj, and Brahimaj Appeal Judgement

    Left to right: Former Kosovan PM Ramush Haradinaj, Idriz Balaj, Lahi Brahimaj

    Excerpt: ‘The Appeals Chamber today partially quashed the acquittals of Ramush Haradinaj, a former commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in the Dukagjin area of Kosovo; Idriz Balaj, a former member of the KLA and commander of a special unit known as the Black Eagles, and Lahi Brahimaj, who served as deputy commander of the KLA Dukagjin Operative Staff. The Appeals Chamber ordered a partial re-trial of the case.’

    What is this about? Are UN courts permitted to keep trying until they get the verdict required?

    Regardless, and personally I don’t know enough about this case to cast an opinion, this decision to re-try a former Kosovan prime minister may yet have repercussions for the future of the Balkans and the EU.  Not to mention NATO and the UN.

    Reading the full Judgement Summary it is clear stated by the judge who wrote this account that he disagrees with the majority of his colleagues in several areas.

    SO DOES THIS RE-TRIAL MATTER?

    In my humble opinion very much so. But perhaps only if NATO’s war to free Kosovans from ethnically-cleansing Serbians matters. And the upside-down world means that even in wartime situations, so-called war crimes/human rights are king, are they not?

    When it comes to helping innocent peoples, the free world’s leaders are paralysed. They are unable to help innocents while we in our highly idealised, naively idealistic and half-blind way are being held hostage to doctrines which the free world’s enemies use and abuse against us and against freedom.

    IT DOESN’T MATTER TO OUR BROADCASTERS

    On a day when I scoured the BBC & Sky News televised reports and saw nothing at all about this news from Kosovo, we also need to ask WHY are we being so badly served by our broadcasters. Just WHO is running and limiting the news we receive?

    Aside: ‘I don’t know what fellow-Brits think but since the digitalised TV system has taken over the whole thing has deteriorated hugely. Once we could see the Ceefax/Teletext pages instantly and easily. Now, unless you’re subscribed to Sky, you have to hunt for at least two hand controls, fiddle about finding the right button, taking a hopeful stab at several, trying to get to, for instance, international news. Personally I don’t care to watch a slow-moving, seldom updated scroll telling me about a certain Mr Raoul Moat, the oil leak in the USA or how soon we’re getting out of Afghanistan.

    SERIOUS QUESTIONS – NOT LEAST OVER THE TIMING OF THIS DECISION

    Coming just the day before the UN court issues its long-awaited ruling on Kosovo’s Independence, this retrial of the former Kosovan Prime Minister raises some serious issues.

    Especially with THIS happening tomorrow – UN Court to issue “advisory ruling” on Thursday afternoon

    Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in February 2008

    Excerpt:

    ‘Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in February 2008 and so far, 69 countries recognise Kosovo as a state, including the United States and 22 out of 27 EU countries.

    Serbia went to the UN’s top court because it wants to challenge the legality of the declaration. The ICJ has been asked to give a non-binding opinion.

    Since it was founded in 1946, the ICJ has handed down 25 advisory opinions as part of its mission to settle international legal disputes.’

    Background to this –

    HARADINAJ’S PREVIOUS TRIAL, MARCH 2007

    From New York Times: April 8th 2007 – ‘Kosovo War-Crimes Trial Splits West and Prosecutors’

    PRISTINA, Kosovo — Ramush Haradinaj, a stocky ethnic Albanian former guerrilla commander and, briefly, Kosovo’s prime minister, is either one of the most impressive leaders to emerge in the Balkans in recent years or a vicious war criminal. Or perhaps both.

    A poster of Ramush Haradinaj, a former Kosovo prime minister, displayed near his home village. Pic: Filip Horvat for The New York Times.

    The case has created a stark divide between prosecutors at the tribunal and in Kosovo and diplomats from the United Nations and Western governments. Mr. Haradinaj was a crucial partner in Western efforts to bring peace to the province, so much so that they tried to prevent the case from going to trial, according to a former head of the United Nations mission in Kosovo and the court’s chief prosecutor.

    Once he was indicted, the mission supported his provisional release, which has lasted almost two years; he is the only indicted person that the court, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, has released in order to return to active politics.

    “He moved this process forward in a way that nobody else has,” said Soren Jessen-Petersen, who was the head of the mission in Kosovo at the time of Mr. Haradinaj’s indictment, in March 2005, just four months after he became prime minister.

    Prosecutors in Kosovo and The Hague say the United Nations and Western governments bent over backward to prevent his prosecution.

    The tribunal’s top prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, has referred to the trial in The Hague as “a prosecution that some did not want to see brought, and that few supported by their cooperation at both the international and local level.”

    In Kosovo, the former guerrilla commander is seen as one of the most charismatic leaders to emerge from the fighting, from 1997 to 1999. While the Serbian government vilified him as a terrorist, senior United Nations officials said he was instrumental in promoting reconciliation.

    “He clearly understood that Serbs could and should be part of the society,” said Mr. Jessen-Petersen, who led the mission in Kosovo from June 2004 to June 2006. “And he had the credentials. Because of his background nobody could accuse him of betraying Kosovo.”

    […]

    The indictment contains details that are among the most gruesome brought before the tribunal: of prisoners being seized by men under Mr. Haradinaj’s command, bound in barbed wire and dragged behind vehicles, and of women raped repeatedly.

    Mr. Haradinaj’s supporters say that there is no evidence linking him directly to the crimes and suggest that the court charged him simply to appear evenhanded.

    And there’s this –

    March 6th, 2007: Chief Prosecutor Carlo Del Ponto on the “warlord” Haradinaj

    THE HAGUE, March 5 (AP) — The chief prosecutor of the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal on Monday called Kosovo’s former prime minister a warlord and a mobster in uniform who helped commit “ugly, cruel and violent crimes.” Speaking at the start of his trial here, she also said that prosecution witnesses often were terrified to appear in court.

    The prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, was speaking at the trial of former Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj and two Kosovo Liberation Army fighters, Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj. The three face 37 counts of atrocities against Serbs and their suspected supporters in Kosovo in 1998.

    “These men, this warlord with his lieutenant and his jailer, have blood on their hands,” Ms. Del Ponte told a three-judge panel.

    Who is Carla Del Ponte?

    This Swiss-born pursuer of truth would seem to be a thorn in the side of NATO. Not only NATO, presumably. Like many so-called truth seekers I am sure she takes great pride in that. I am sure she also takes great pride in the fact that in February 2008 SWITZERLAND recognised Kosovo. (See Swiss Government citation.)

    _______________

    WHICH COUNTRIES RECOGNISE KOSOVO?

    This, from Barnaby Phillips – The Europe Blog – (at Aljazeera), might be worth keeping an eye on. Yes, well, I did mention that there are some things our British broadcasters and printed press won’t touch and others they labour well beyond their sell-by date. Having said that his starting line in his article is at the very least misleading:

    “What do Mauritania, Swaziland, Somalia, Djibouti and Vanuatu have in common? Not a lot, but they are they are the only countries that have recognised Kosovo as a sovereign state this year.”

    DID YOU GET THE IMPRESSION THAT THERE WERE FEW WHO BACKED KOSOVO?

    Well, yes, again. It is an Al Jazeera-hosted blog. Nowhere for you to get online in the FREE west, Mr Phillips? Too FREE? Not enough cash for your thoughts here?

    From February 2008 through to May 2010 there have actually been 69 countries recognising Kosovo’s independence. That’s 69 out of 192 UN members, including 22 EU member states.  The UK’s formal recognition, February 2008, is here.

    All of this just a week or so after Tony Blair’s hero’s welcome in Pristina, on which I reported here.

    BBC report and further background reading on Kosovo



    Sign the Ban Blair-Baiting petition here
    A recent comment from an Albanian, Mr Leonard Dedej from Tirana – “It takes big leaders to make the hardest turns in peoples life…mr Blair is a big leader and a great man for millions of people in Balkans!!!for stopping a savage war!about Iraq I believe that the press wherever it is has not the right to judge on this issue because it simply is to small to judge!!history will judge mr Blair!as long as it is an ongoing war no one can blame mr Blair,after all he started something for a big reason..the press its often wrong because it fights for audience!!!”




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