At the start of the trial of Hysni Gucati and Nasim Haradinaj, who are charged with obstructing the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office and intimidating and retaliating against witnesses, Specialist Prosecutor Jack Smith described the case as one “about the conditions required for the fair administration of justice” and “what is required to make rule of law a reality”.

The Specialist Prosecutor said that truth was the foundation of justice and a truth that explained why this trial was necessary was the fact “that there is a small but powerful group of persons in Kosovo that do not want this Court to exist and that will do anything to damage it in a vain attempt to salvage a false narrative that no KLA soldiers committed any crimes during the war.”

Mr Smith pointed out that Mr Gucati and Mr Haradinaj belong to this group and denigrate anyone cooperating with the Kosovo Specialist Chambers and SPO as “spies”, “collaborators” and “traitors” who have “betrayed” their fellow countrymen.

The Specialist Prosecutor stressed that the Specialist Chambers should be a victim-driven court and that part of the reason it was created, and why it was located in The Hague was the “climate of intimidation of witnesses and interference with proceedings that exist in criminal cases against former KLA members”.

“This climate has worked in the past to prevent witnesses from coming to Court and saying what they knew about KLA crimes,” Mr Smith said. “The accused know this history well and hoped to use the same strategy here to intimidate witnesses because it had worked in the past.”

The Specialist Prosecutor stated that the fair administration of justice requires building and fostering institutions that can protect those who seek justice and that the Specialist Chambers had the ability to provide justice for many victims in Kosovo.

“The reason it has this power is that it represents a safe place for witnesses to speak openly about the crimes they saw, the crimes which they themselves suffered through, the crimes they saw their family members suffer through,” he said. “Most crucially, it represents a place where they can do so without fear of retaliation or retribution.”

The Prosecution will begin presenting the evidence in its case next Monday 18 October.

Specialist Prosecutor's Office