Kosovo: If they are not guilty, who committed the war crimes?

Amnesty International is calling for justice for all victims of the 1998-99 Kosovo war after three high-ranking members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) were acquitted of war crimes at a retrial today.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in the Hague found the three men - ex-prime minister and former KLA commander Ramush Haradinaj, his uncle Lahi Brahimaj and deputy KLA commander Idriz Balaj - not guilty of a joint criminal enterprise to mistreat Kosovo Serbs, Roma and Egyptians, and Albanians perceived to be collaborators with the Serbian authorities.

They were also cleared of all counts relating to individual criminal responsibility for the murder, cruel treatment and torture - as war crimes - of members of minority communities, and of Albanians perceived to be collaborators, at a KLA compound at Jablanica, in central Bosnia Herzegovina.

John Dalhuisen, Director of Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia programme, said:

“Today’s verdict raises the question if, as the court has established today, the three former high-ranking KLA members are not guilty, who then committed those crimes? Is anybody ever going to be brought to justice? These are the questions that the victims and their families ask, and will continue to ask, until they see justice.”

An estimated 800 members of minority communities in Kosovo, were allegedly abducted and murdered by members of the KLA. Only a small number of their bodies have been found, exhumed and returned to their families for burial.

Dalhuisen said:

“The abductions of members of minority communities, and of Albanians considered to be traitors to the KLA, are war crimes and, sometimes, crimes against humanity. They have to be investigated as such and the EU-led Police and Justice mission in Kosovo (EULEX) and the Kosovo authorities must do everything in their power to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.”

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