No western-backed tribunal for alleged war crimes in Kosovo

US embassy ‘deeply disappointed’ as Assembly of Kosovo vote falls short of majority needed to establish a western-backed court to deal with allegations of war crimes

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The US embassy expressed disappointment over a vote in Kosovo on Friday as the Assembly of Kosovo in Pristina rejected amendments to Kosovo’s constitution to allow a Western-backed court to deal with allegations that the country’s ethnic Albanian wartime leaders killed hundreds of Serb civilians.

The US embassy said in a statement that it was “deeply disappointed” by Friday’s vote which was 75-7 in favor of the amendments but failed to secure a two-thirds majority (81 votes out of 120) to approve the changes.

The United States said it won’t block Russia’s attempts to establish a UN tribunal.

Opposition parties and veterans’ associations found the proposed establishment of a western-backed court offensive and claimed it is an insult to Kosovo’s Liberation Army’s armed struggle to escape Serbian rule during the 1998-1999 conflict.

In 2010, The Committee on Legal Affairs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) demanded investigations into organ-trafficking and disappearances in Kosovo and Albania.

After two years of research, Swiss senator Dick Marty had prepared a report that formed the basis of the 2010 draft resolution that the committee said presented “numerous concrete and convergent indications” confirming that Serbian and Albanian Kosovars were held prisoner in secret places of detention under KLA control in northern Albania and were subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment, before ultimately disappearing.

The allegations in the 2010 report went so far as to accuse Kosovo’s then-Prime Minister Hashim Thaci as “the boss” of a criminal network responsible for smuggling weapons, drugs and human organs through eastern Europe.

Thaci, the former political head of the KLA and now the foreign minister of Kosovo, in December 2010 called the report “filled with slander and lies,” asked for “professional procedures be initiated regarding all allegations” and that Marty come forward with “all the facts and evidence.”

TRTWorld and agencies