The Hague, 16 January 2008 – The Hague Tribunal prosecution has called for a sentence of 25 years imprisonment for Ramush Haradinaj.

In a final submission published yesterday, ahead of closing statements next week, prosecutor David Re asked for the same sentence to be handed to two co-accused former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) for atrocities committed against Serbs, Roma and Albanians around Dečani in 1998.

Re said that it had been proven at the trial that “during seven months in 1998, KLA members had conducted a harsh campaign of persecution against civilians around Dečani,” in which “at least 40 civilians had been killed because of their nationality, religion and political beliefs.”

Haradinaj and his subordinates Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj took part in a joint criminal campaign that begin in mid-April 1998, claimed the prosecutor.

“Proof of the roles of Haradinaj, Balaj and Brahimaj in that joint criminal undertaking are damning. The prosecution has presented firm evidence of the personal involvement of each of them in separate counts on the indictment. The sole conclusion from all this evidence is that Haradinaj, Balaj and Brahimaj participated in that undertaking with enthusiasm and that they were guilty of crimes against humanity, including persecution and murder, as well as violating the laws and customs of war,” stressed the prosecutor during his closing submission.

He said that, during the proceedings, the prosecution had succeeded in proving the defendants’ guilt for each one of the 37 counts on the indictment which hold them responsible for murder, persecution, deportation, unlawful imprisonment, inhumane acts, cruel treatment, torture, kidnap, abuse and rape of civilians around Dečani between April and November 1998.

Re underlined that “those crimes against helpless civilians merit a considerable sentence from the Tribunal,” deeming “25 years imprisonment for each of the accused to be an appropriate punishment.”

The prosecution and defense are due to give their closing statements from January 21 to 23.

After the prosecution had finished its presentation of evidence in November, the three defendant’s lawyers decided not bring any of their witnesses before the Tribunal.

The trial began on March 5 last year.

At their first appearance before the court, all three pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Source: B92/BETA