Kosovo Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor's Office: New Hearing in the Case Specialist Prosecutor v. Hashim Thaçi, Kadri Veseli, Rexhep Selimi and Jakup Krasniqi
Grace ATALUI MOKANGO
International Justice and Human Rights Researcher
Global Human Rights Defence
On Tuesday, 22/02/2022, the Pre-Trial Judge in the Specialised Chambers of Kosovo will hold a hearing in the case Specialist Prosecutor v. Hashim Thaçi, Kadri Veseli, Rexhep Selimi, and Jakup Krasniqi. They are being tried and prosecuted for crimes committed in several locations in Kosovo and northern Albania between 1998 and 1999.
Based in The Hague, Kosovo Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office is an internationalised or hybrid court of a temporary nature. With a specific mandate and jurisdiction to prosecute and judge the perpetrators of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and other crimes under Kosovo law, the Chambers extend their jurisdiction to serious crimes committed in Kosovo between 1 January 1998 and 31 December 2000.
In the current case, the indictment revised and confirmed by the Specialised Chamber on 26 October 2020 was made public on 5 November 2021 under the applicable rules for the functioning of the Chamber. During the facts and crimes covered by the indictment, Hashim Thaçi, Kadri Veseli, Rexhep Selimi and Jakup Krasniqi all held important positions in the Ushtria Çlirimtare E Kosovës (UCK), which translates as the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).
The facts date back to the 1998-1999 conflict between the UCK and Yugoslav and Serbian forces and their allies. During this conflict, serious violations of international law were committed. On the basis of individual but also superior criminal responsibility, Thaçi, Veseli, Selimi, Krasniqi are accused of having acted as part of a joint criminal enterprise and had the common objective, according to the indictment, “of obtaining and exercising control over the whole of Kosovo, in particular by intimidating, ill-treating, raping and illegally eliminating persons considered to be opponents”.
These serious violations of international law were committed against civilians, persons not directly participating in the hostilities, and persons considered to be opposed to the UCK, including Catholics, Serbs and those who had any contact with them, Albanians who had not joined the UCK, Roma and Ashtali, and persons who had been in jobs hostile to the UCK. Anyone who did not support the aims and means of the UCK was considered an opponent.
They are charged with crimes against humanity because the acts committed were part of a widespread and systematic attack and war crimes because the acts committed were part of an armed conflict”.
It should be noted that during this hearing on 22 February 2022, the parties involved will have the opportunity to answer some of the questions posed by the Pre-Trial Judge following the Special Prosecutor's proposed treatment of confidential information and contacts with witnesses.
Sources and further reading
Specialist Prosecutor v. Hashim Thaçi, Kadri Veseli, Rexhep Selimi and Jakup Krasniqi, Case Information Sheet, from: https://www.scp-ks.org/sites/default/files/public/cis_thaci_et_al-en.pdf
Public redacted version of decision on the confirmation of the indictment against hashim THAÇI, Kadri VESELI, Rexhep SELIMI and Jakup KRASNIQI, from : https://repository.scp-ks.org/details.php?doc_id=091ec6e98039bda9&doc_type=stl_filing&lang=eng