Skip to comments.Kosovo journalist rejects charge of naming war crimes witness
Posted on 06/26/2008 10:12:16 AM PDT by shhimundercover
THE HAGUE Albanian Kosovo journalist Baton Haxhiu yesterday told a UN tribunal trying him for revealing the name of a protected witness that he had done no wrong as the man's identity was already known.
"Quite a few people knew his name.... Kosovo is a small country, secrets do not last long-especially when they concern the leaders of an armed struggle against the Serbs during the Kosovo war," he told the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague.
Haxhiu, editor of the daily Express newspaper, stands accused of contempt for having named a protected witness during the war crimes trial of former Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj-chief of the Kosovo Liberation Army during the country's 1998-1999 war.
"The article did not constitute a revelation of the name of the witness.... I already new his name four months ahead of the publication of the article, so why would I have waited?"
He maintained he had "never in my life wanted to intervene in the course of justice".
Former prime minister Haradinaj had been sought for the murder, torture and rape of Serbs and opponents in an alleged campaign of "ethnic cleansing" during the Kosovo war.
He was acquitted in April for lack of evidence in a trial at which several witnesses refused to testify in what the judges later conceded had been an atmosphere of fear.
"Fear was a pre-eminent reason why witnesses did not wish to testify," the tribunal said at the time. "The court encountered significant difficulties in obtaining considerable numbers of testimonies." Thirty four out of 81 witnesses had to receive special protection.
Haxhiu was arrested in Pristina in May and faces a seven-year prison term and/or a fine of 100,000 euros.
He is the third Kosovo Albanian to be charged with contempt by the court. Former Kosovo culture minister Astrit Haraqija and his adviser Bajrush Morina are to be judged in September for allegedly intimidating a witness into not testify against Haradinaj.