23 January 2008 – Ramush Haradinaj’s defense team claims that the prosecution failed to prove his involvement in war crimes.

Haradinaj is accused of war crimes against Serb and Roma civilians in 1998 in Kosovo.

“The prosecution failed to prove that Haradinaj ordered, condoned or allowed any of the war crimes cited in the indictment, and we therefore believe that he should be released,” Haradinaj’s lawyer Ben Emerson said.

Emerson said that the evidence presented by the prosecution had not proven beyond reasonable doubt that the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) had executed abducted Serb, Albanian and Roma civilians at a canal near the Radonjićki canal, not far from the accused’s headquarters in the village of Glođana.

According to the indictment, the remains of 31 of the 40 kidnapped individuals killed by members of the KLA under Haradinaj’s command, had been discovered.

“The evidence does not show that the KLA killed these people,” Emerson said, adding that the cause of death remained “unclear.”

He said that the prosecutor had “no idea, nor proof of who killed these people,” nor how the bodies ended up in the place where they had been discovered.

Emerson rejected the prosecution’s claim that this territory was under the strict control of the KLA during this critical period, claiming that witnesses had testified that there were members of the Serbian police patrolling the area the entire time.

The bullet marks on the walls of the canal, which the prosecution claimed were proof of the site of the executions, according to Emerson, only showed that this was where clashes had taken place between KLA and Serb forces.

Emerson said that the police inquest at the mass grave site by the lake where the bodies had been found “contained false testimonies and evidence” and that the investigation had been used for propaganda purposes.

According to the defense, the abduction of civilians from surrounding villages by the KLA had not been approved by Haradinaj, and that “unidentified individuals” had been responsible for these acts.

Emerson also claimed that two Serb civilians from the village of Dašinovac had been killed in combat after opening fire on KLA members, adding that two police officers had also perished in similar circumstances.

“There is not even the slightest bit of proof that Haradinaj ordered or allowed the attacks on collaborators,” Emerson said, adding that the murder of one Albanian woman of which the KLA is accused, had actually been committed by a rival Albanian paramilitary unit.

Nor, the defense claimed, was there any proof that Haradinaj had used his home, which also served as his headquarters, as a place for torturing prisoners.

Prosecutor David Re had said in his closing statement on Monday that he had proven that Haradinaj, along with Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj were guilty of all 37 counts on the indictment.

The Hague prosecution has demanded a sentence of 25 years imprisonment for each defendant if found guilty.

Source: B92