The deputy leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army War Veterans’ Organisation, Nasim Haradinaj, said prosecutors should have prevented a leak of confidential case files instead of trying him for making the documents public.
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Nasim Haradinaj in court in October 2021. Photo: EPA-EFE/PIROSCHKA VAN DE WOUW/POOL.
Nasim Haradinaj testified at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers in The Hague on Thursday that the prosecution should have prevented the leak of confidential documents from war crimes cases rather than blaming him and the Kosovo Liberation Army War Veterans’ Organisation.
“Why didn’t you come to catch him?” Haradinaj asked the prosecution, referring to the person who dropped off two tranches of confidential documents on two separate occasions at the KLA War Veterans’ Organisation’s headquarters in Pristina in September 2020.
“The first time could have been a surprise for you and for us, but even though he promised he would bring [documents] again, you didn’t come [to prevent it]. You followed us on the streets but did not watch the premises,” Haradinaj said.
Haradinaj accused the Specialist Chambers of taking a “selective approach” against war veterans, which he said “offends the entire population [of Kosovo]”.
Haradinaj and his superior, the leader of the KLA War Veterans’ Organisation, Hysni Gucati, are accused of obstruction of justice and witness intimidation because they received the documents and urged the media to publish extracts from them.
The documents contained confidential information about protected witnesses in cases against KLA ex-guerrillas at the Specialist Chambers.
After receiving the documents, Gucati and Haradinaj held three press conferences at which they revealed confidential information from the files and identified details of certain potential witnesses, the prosecution alleges. Both men have pleaded not guilty.
During his testimony on Thursday, Haradinaj told the court that “I did not push anyone to publish” the documents.
He said he did not read anything confidential in the documents and claimed that “it was not clarified to me they were top secret”.
“How can something be top secret and be publicly brought into our offices?” he asked.
The Kosovo Specialist Chambers were set up, under pressure from Kosovo’s Western allies, to try crimes allegedly committed during and just after the Kosovo war from 1998 to 2000. They are part of Kosovo’s judicial system but located in the Netherlands and staffed by internationals and are widely resented by Kosovo Albanians who see it as an insult to the KLA’s war for liberation from Serbian rule.
Witness protection has been a key concern for the Specialist Chambers after incidents of witness-tampering at previous trials of KLA commanders.
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