War crimes tribunal acquits ex-KLA commander
The Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) on Nov. 39 acquitted former Kosova Liberation Army (KLA) commanders Ramush Haradinaj, Idriz Balaj and Laji Brahimaj of all charges. Haradinaj (Kosova's former prime minister) was a commander of the KLA in the Dukagjin area of western Kosova; Balaj, a commander of a special operations unit known as the Black Eagles; and Brahimaj was deputy commander of the Dukagjin Operative Zone. In April 2008, the Trial Chamber originally acquitted Haradinaj of all charges, as was Balaj, but Brahimaj was convicted of mistreating a detainee and ordering the mistreatment of another, and was sentenced to six years. However, in July 2010, the ICTY Appeals Chamber reversed the judgments, finding that the Trial Chamber had failed to take sufficient steps to counter witness intimidation. The ICTY began the retrial in August 2011, with the prosecutor seeking a 20-year sentence for Haradinaj. However, the Trial Chamber rendered judgment in favor of the defendants, ordering for their immediate release.
Since its establishment in 1993, the ICTY has indicted 161 people for violations of humanitarian law committed in the territory of the former Yugoslavia between 1991 and 2001; of those indicted, the trials of 128 have concluded, with proceedings for 33 currently ongoing. On Nov. 23, the ICTY overturned the convictions of two Croatian generals, Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac, for crimes against humanity and war crimes against Serb civilians committed during a 1995 military blitz. Ex-Yugoslav army chief Momcilo Perisic began his appeal before the ICTY last October in an attempt to overturn his conviction on crimes against humanity and war crimes committed during the wars in Bosnia and Croatia. ( Perisic is the only Yugoslav officer to be convicted by the ICTY, although he was effectively fighting for Serbia.) Earlier that October, the ICTY opened the trial of Goran Hadzic, a former Croatian Serb leader, the last suspect remaining to be tried by the court.
From Jurist, Nov. 29. Used with permission.
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