Today the Outreach team of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers in cooperation with the NGO Humanitarian Law Center Kosovo carried out an online round table with journalists from Kosovo. The focus of the meeting was on providing journalists with background information on the rules related to the review of indictments and the pre-trial phase of proceedings in order to support accurate reporting about the activities of the court. The KSC President Ekaterina Trendafilova has assigned a pre-trial judge to review indictments filed by the Specialist Prosecutor. Notwithstanding the Covid-19 pandemic, the KSC continues to be fully operational while taking measures against the spread of the virus in line with the recommendations and decisions of the relevant public health authorities.
Under the Law on the Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office, an indictment before the KSC is strictly confidential unless and until confirmed by the pre-trial judge. The judge has up to six months to either confirm or dismiss an indictment. After an indictment is confirmed, it becomes public. Under the Law, within 7 days after an accused has received the indictment or within 48 hours after his/her arrest, the accused appears before the pre-trial judge. In this first appearance the pre-trial judge ensures the accused understands the charges against him/her and that the rights of the accused are being respected, including the right to legal representation. The pre-trial phase may also include decisions by the judge on victims' participation, witness protection and other issues relevant for the proceedings.
During today’s meeting, representatives of the KSC informed the participants about the different stages of the pre-trial phase and encouraged questions and discussion. The meeting was part of the KSC outreach programme aimed at informing people in Kosovo about the mandate and proceedings before the KSC and encouraging a dialogue. While the KSC outreach team usually travels to Kosovo on a monthly basis, the meetings continue online during the COVID-19 crisis to ensure a continuous flow of information.