The Court of Appeals Panel in the case of the Specialist Prosecutor v. Hysni Gucati and Nasim Haradinaj, composed of Judges Michèle Picard, Kai Ambos and Nina Jørgensen, today issued the first appeal judgment of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC).
The Appeals Panel affirmed Mr Gucati’s and Mr Haradinaj’s convictions for intimidation during criminal proceedings (count 3), violating the secrecy of proceedings through the unauthorised revelation of secret information disclosed in official proceedings (count 5), and violating the secrecy of proceedings through the unauthorised revelation of the identities and personal data of protected witnesses (count 6). The Appeals Panel further affirmed, Judge Ambos dissenting, Mr Gucati’s and Mr Haradinaj’s conviction for obstructing official persons in performing official duties by serious threat (count 1).
The Appeals Panel reversed the Trial Panel’s finding related to the obstructing official persons in performing official duties by participating in the common action of a group (count 2) and acquitted Mr Gucati and Mr Haradinaj on this count.
In view of their findings, the Appeals Panel by Majority reduced Mr Gucati’s and Mr Haradinaj’s sentences of four and a half years imposed by the Trial Panel to four years and three months of imprisonment, with credit for time served. The Appeals Panel affirmed the additional sentence to pay a fine of one hundred euros (100 EUR) each.
In pronouncing its judgment, the Court of Appeals Panel emphasised that “It is fundamental to the fulfilment of the Specialist Chambers’ mission that individuals who come to give evidence, often about traumatic or difficult experiences, may do so without fear. The protection of the witnesses from intimidation and harm lies at the very foundation of any system of criminal justice, including the Specialist Chambers. This case, concerns therefore the proper administration of justice, the integrity and security of proceedings and the safety of witnesses”.
A summary of the Appeal Judgment can be found on the KSC website.
On 25 and 26 September 2020, Mr Gucati and Mr Haradinaj were arrested in Prishtinë/Priština, Kosovo, and transferred to the KSC Detention Unit. On 11 December 2020, the Pre-Trial Judge confirmed the initial indictment against the two accused.
The indictment states, amongst others, that between at least 7 and 25 September 2020, on the occasion of three press conferences and other broadcasted events, as well as through further dissemination, Mr Gucati and Mr Haradinaj revealed, without authorisation, information protected under the Law of the Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office (SPO), including the identifying details of certain (potential) witnesses. Mr Gucati and Mr Haradinaj also made disparaging remarks and accusations against (potential) witnesses and repeatedly expressed their intention to undermine the KSC.
The trial judgment was pronounced on 18 May 2022.