Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Kosovo: Kosovo, Albania Call For Probe Of Del Ponte

RFE/RL Copyright (c) 2012. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

Kosovo, Albania Call For Probe Of Del Ponte

WATCH: Kosovo's Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhaj answers questions from correspondent Ron Synovitz at Prague's RFE/RL headquarters on December 3.

By Ron Synovitz

PRAGUE -- Kosovo's government has accused Carla del Ponte, the former chief prosecutor of the UN war crimes court, of misusing her powers.

In an exclusive interview on December 3 in Prague, Kosovo's Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhaj told RFE/RL that del Ponte had pushed for a retrial of former Kosovar Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj on war crimes charges without any evidence after she had resigned as the UN's top war crimes prosecutor.

"We think that Carla del Ponte misused its powers and its competences, and our government has asked for a proper, full investigation why she was [pushing for] the second trial when for that, there were not at all any kind of facts," Hoxhaj said. "And the court has already confirmed that it was actually not necessary. We hope that we are going to have full clarity on that issue because she was humiliating the dignity of Mr. Haradinaj, of our citizens, and of Kosovo as a whole."
TRANSCRIPT of RFE/RL's interview with Kosovar Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhaj
A Foreign Ministry spokesman told RFE/RL that Del Ponte published a book and used her diplomatic contacts to push for the partial retrial. Albania also is calling for an investigation into Del Ponte's work.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia last week acquitted Haradinaj, a former guerrilla commander in the Kosovo Liberation Army, on charges that he was responsible for crimes against humanity against Serbs during the 1998-99 Kosovo conflict.
Haradinaj was acquitted in his first war crimes trial at The Hague in 2008 after Del Ponte had already resigned from the post. Haradinaj initially had faced 37 counts, including the murder and torture of Serb civilians, as well as the killing of ethnic Albanians and Roma suspected of collaborating with Serb military forces and police from March to September 1998.

The partial retrial of Haradinaj came after a July 2010 appeals judgment, which found that trial judges "failed to appreciate the gravity of the threat that witness intimidation posed" to the integrity of his first trial.

That appeals decision also said judges in the first trial had placed too much emphasis "on ensuring that the prosecution took no more than its preallotted time," regardless of the possibility of securing "potentially important testimony."

Albania also has joined Pristina's call for an investigation into del Ponte's work.

There has been no comment yet from the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague or from del Ponte.

Haradinaj had only served for 100 days as prime minister when he was first indicted by the UN court in March 2005. He chose to resign as prime minister and traveled voluntarily to The Hague the next day to face the charges against him.

Since last week's acquittal, Haradinaj has expressed an interest in returning to politics in Kosovo.
With additional reporting by Reuters and AP