Kosovo wars vets report more 'leaked files'

AFP , Tuesday 22 Sep 2020

Kosovo war veterans said Tuesday they had been leaked a third batch of confidential files from a war crimes court in The Hague

Serbian President
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. (AFP)

Kosovo war veterans said Tuesday they had been leaked a third batch of confidential files from a war crimes court in The Hague, in what appears to be a security breach exposing protected witnesses.

The veterans hail from the ethnic Albanian guerilla group that waged a 1990s independence struggle against Serbia and is now under investigation by the Hague-based Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC) for war crimes.

Over the past two weeks the former rebels have reported receiving three packages of court documents that include information about witnesses whose identies are meant to be protected to shield them from retribution.

The tribunal itself has refused to confirm or comment on the incidents.

The matter is highly sensitive in Kosovo, where former rebel commanders still dominate political life.

The court operates under Kosovo law but is based in the Netherlands to shield witnesses from intimidation.

The veteran's association "received documents again from an unknown and masked person" who announced that "next time he would bring more on CD", the group's vice chairman, Nasim Haradinaj, told media Tuesday.

The latest documents include more witness details and the names of those who face indictments, he said.

The previous two document batches were swiftly seized by Hague investigators, according to the veterans.

Former fighters of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) fiercely oppose the work of the court, defending their "just" liberation war against Belgrade's oppression of Kosovo's ethnic Albanian population.

Top Serbian military and police officials have previously been convicted by international justice of war crimes from the conflict that left 13,000 people dead, mainly ethnic Albanians.

The KSC is investigating claims that the Kosovo rebels waged a campaign of revenge attacks on Serbs, Roma and ethnic Albanian rivals during and after the 1998-99 war.

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci -- the rebels' former political chief -- was the first to face accusations from the court prosecutors earlier this year.

He was accused of being "criminally responsible for nearly 100 murders".

Prosecutors said they took the unusual decision to publish his indictment before it was confirmed by a pre-trial judge because he and others were trying to "obstruct the work" of the tribunal.

Thaci has denied all allegations and said he would resign if the indictment is approved.

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