Today, on 6 April 2023, Trial Panel I in a public hearing issued the reparation order in the case of Salih Mustafa who was found guilty on 16th December 2022 of the war crimes of arbitrary detention, torture, and murder, and sentenced to 26 years of imprisonment. The Panel ordered Mr. Mustafa to pay an overall sum of €207,000 as compensation for the harm inflicted on the victims of the crimes for which he is convicted.

The Panel determined that compensation for each of the victims on an individual basis constitutes the most appropriate type and modality of reparation and ordered varying amounts to be paid to each of the eight participating victims, ranging from €2000 to €80,000. These amounts followed the Victims’ Counsel’s request, which the Trial Panel considered to be reasonable and to reflect the scope and extent of the harm suffered by the victims.

The Panel noted that its jurisdiction in this case will cease with the issuance of this Reparation Order. The Panel therefore invited the President of the KSC to designate a judicial authority which will be in charge of monitoring and overseeing the implementation and execution of the Reparation Order.

While the Panel recalled that the responsibility to pay the compensation lies exclusively with Mr. Mustafa, they noted that Mr. Mustafa currently does not have the means to fully comply with the order. Therefore, the Panel emphasized that other actors ought to step in, in order to execute the Reparation Order, especially Kosovo. In this regard, the Trial Panel indicated that Kosovo’s current Crime Victim Compensation Program could be an alternative to execute the Reparation Order, although the maximum sums which can be awarded under this program are less than the amounts established in the Reparation Order.

Therefore, the Panel invited Kosovo to create a new reparation mechanism for victims of crimes within the jurisdiction of the KSC in order to ensure an equal treatment between the suspects and accused before the KSC, who are financially supported for their defence through the Kosovo budget, whereas nothing is provided for the victims of crimes within the jurisdiction of the KSC. Furthermore, the Panel observed that the legislation in Kosovo addressing harm and injuries suffered in the context of the war in Kosovo in 1998-1999 refers exclusively to the victims of the enemy forces which, in view of the Panel, creates a discrimination between the victims of this war. 

In addition, the Panel recommended the establishment of a trust fund for victims of crimes under the jurisdiction of the KSC, at the initiative of the KSC, in case Kosovo fails to uphold its obligations towards victims in a reasonable time through the establishment of a reparation mechanism. Such trust fund should be financially supported above all by Kosovo as well as by other States and donors wishing to support victims.

Specialist Chambers