ICTY orders a partial re-trial in the case of Haradinaj et al. 21 Jul 2010
ICTY Appeals Chamber partially quashes acquittals and orders limited re-trial in the case of Haradinaj et al.

On 21 July 2010, the Appeals Chambers at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) partially quashed the acquittals of Ramush Haradinaj, Idriz Balaj, Lahi Brahimaj and ordered a partial re-trial of the case. The Appeals Chamber held that the Trial Chamber erred when it refused the Prosecution’s requests for additional time to exhaust all reasonable steps to secure the testimony of two crucial witnesses. The majority, with Judge Robinson dissenting, reasoned that taken individually, each of the Trial Chamber’s decisions could be considered as falling within their discretion but taken as a whole it was clear that the Trial Chamber had erred. The Appeals Chamber also dismissed Brahimaj’s grounds of appeal in which he submitted that the Trial Chamber made numerous errors in determining his sentence of six years of imprisonment.

In April 2008, the Trial Chamber held that the Prosecution had presented insufficient evidence to establish criminal liability for Haradinaj and Balaj, and acquitted them of all charges. The Trial Chamber found Brahimaj guilty of one count of torture and another count of torture and cruel human treatment in a violation of the laws or customs of war, and sentenced him to six years’ imprisonment. The Prosecution and Mr. Brahimaj both filed appeals against the Trial Judgment.
 
This case concerns crimes committed between 1 March and 30 September 1998 in the Dukagjin area of Western Kosovo. During this period, Ramush Haradinaj was a commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in Dukagjin area, Idriz Balaj was the commander of the Black Eagles Unit within the KLA, and Lahi Brahimaj was a KLA member stationed in the force’s Jablanica/Jabllanicë headquarters in Ðakovica/Gjakovë municipality.

According to the indictment, a makeshift detention facility at the KLA headquarters in Jablanica/Jabllanicë was established in mid-May 1998. During their detention, detainees were given very little food or water, were regularly beaten and subjected to other forms of physical mistreatment, and were denied medical treatment for their injuries. A number of prisoners at the Jablanica/Jabllanicë detention facility died as a result of their injuries. Others were executed on orders of the accused.

Haradinaj, Balaj and Brahimaj are alleged to have been accomplices in a joint criminal enterprise (JCE). The alleged purpose of the JCE was to consolidate the total control of the KLA over the Dukagjin Operational Zone by the unlawful removal and mistreatment of Serb civilians and by the mistreatment of Kosovar Albanians, Kosovar Roma/Egyptian civilians, and other civilians, who were, or were perceived to have been, collaborating with Serbian Forces or otherwise not supporting the KLA. However, in its judgment of 3 April 2008, the Trial Chamber determined that there was insufficient evidence to establish the existence of such a JCE.

The Prosecution charged all three accused with crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war (deportation or forcible transfer of civilians, cruel treatment, torture, rape, and murder) or in the alternative, with having committed, planned, instigated, ordered, or aided and abetted many of the crimes.

The Appeals Chamber concluded by ordering the detention of Ramush Haradinaj, Idriz Balaj, and Lahi Brahimaj at the United Nations Detention Unit in The Hague, where they will remain pending further orders.

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