Acting Specialist Prosecutor Alex Whiting welcomed today’s verdict in the trial of Salih Mustafa as one that provides justice to victims and hailed the courage of witnesses who testified at the Specialist Chambers.
“Today’s judgment represents a victory for justice and, in particular, for the victims of Salih Mustafa and their families, all Kosovar Albanians, whose personal tragedies have been at the heart of this case and who have suffered more than two decades on account of Mr Mustafa’s actions,” Mr Whiting said in response to the Trial Panel’s guilty verdict.
“The testimony of witnesses, who put their faith in the Specialist Chambers to provide justice, was critical to the judgment and I applaud their extraordinary courage in coming forward to give evidence in court,” the Acting Specialist Prosecutor continued. “The creation of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers has made it possible for these victims to tell their stories and obtain justice.”
Mr Mustafa was found guilty of three counts of war crimes – arbitrary detention; torture; and murder – and has been sentenced to 26 years in prison.
The victims were all Kosovar Albanians, some of whom had volunteered for service with the KLA because they believed strongly in the fight for Kosovo’s independence.
“The Court has ruled that Mr Mustafa used his authority to victimise and brutalise fellow Kosovar Albanians,” Mr Whiting said.
Mr Mustafa was arrested on 24 September 2020 by the SPO, pursuant to an arrest warrant, transfer order and confirmed indictment issued by a pre-trial judge of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers.
The trial began on 15 September 2021 and the SPO closed its case on 4 February 2022. The SPO presented rebuttal evidence on 1 June 2022 and evidentiary proceedings were closed on 20 June 2022. Closing statements were made between 13 and 15 September 2022. The SPO presented 14 witnesses in total.
“With today’s verdict, the Specialist Chambers has shown that it is a court for and about victims and that there is no expiration date on accountability,” Mr Whiting concluded.