PRISTINA, Kosovo – Kosovo war veterans said Tuesday an unknown person has again handed them war crime files from a special international court in The Hague, Netherlands, probing alleged crimes during and after the Balkan nation’s 1998-1999 war.
But a court spokesman warned that the veterans appeared to be trying to undermine the proper administration of justice.
Hysni Gucati, head of the association of former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) fighters, said an unidentified man delivered the files — copies of the originals — to their office Tuesday morning in Kosovo’s capital, Pristina.
It was the third such incident in two months.
Nasim Haradinaj, another association official, said the names of President Hashim Thaci and other former top KLA leaders were mentioned in a draft document on charges against them.
“It would be good that the local prosecutor’s office and the international ones probe and find who is bringing them and from where,” said Gucati.
The Kosovo Specialist Chambers is mandated to look into allegations that KLA members committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Christopher Bennett, spokesman of the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers, condemned the statements by the war veterans’ group which he said “has on a number of occasions engaged in activities which I believe are aimed at undermining the proper administration of justice.”
A copy of the documents was offered to journalists by the group.
Bennett also commended journalists for not publishing the files, saying that would amount to a criminal act.
“The SPO is committed to vigorously investigating and prosecuting individuals who commit any such crimes, including the disclosure of the identity of individuals who may be called before the court or any information that could lead to their identification.”
Thaci, former parliamentary speaker Kadri Veseli, and others have been charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, enforced disappearances, persecution and torture. Both men have denied committing any crimes.
A pretrial judge hasn’t made a decision on whether to proceed with their case.
A statement from the embassies of France, Germany, Italy, the U.K. and the United States last week urged people not to discredit the court’s mission.
In a separate development, six new international judges were nominated to the court, which already has 17 judges. The court has not started any trials so far since the start of its operation five years ago.
The 1998-1999 war for Kosovo’s independence from Serbia left more than 10,000 people dead — most of them ethnic Albanians from Kosovo. More than 1,600 people remain unaccounted for. The fighting ended after a 78-day NATO air campaign against Serbian troops.
Kosovo, which is dominated by ethnic Albanians, declared independence from Serbia in 2008, a move recognized by many Western nations but not Serbia or its allies Russia and China.
Semini reported from Tirana, Albania.