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Court will be funded by the EU to prevent witness intimidation and corruption.

By Antoine Sander

8/4/15, 5:45 PM CET

Updated 8/4/15, 7:06 PM CET

After a lengthy political fight, Kosovo has agreed to a special tribunal in a foreign country to try ex-Kosovo Liberation Army members accused of war crimes during the war against Serbia in the late 1990s.

The court is expected to be set up in the Netherlands next year and will be funded by the European Union to prevent witness intimidation or judicial corruption. All of the judges will be non-Kosovars but will apply Kosovar law.

“Finding the truth about some allegations from, during, and after the war is a challenge that we have to deal with,” Prime Minister Isa Mustafa told parliament before the vote.

Eighty-two of 120 parliament members supported the measure Monday, exceeding the two-thirds majority needed to amend the country’s constitution and reverse a vote in June on similar provisions.

A 2010 report by the Council of Europe accused the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) of abductions, murders and illegal organ sales. They allegedly targeted Serbian and Roma minorities, as well as defiant Kosovars.

“Today’s vote was difficult but necessary to establish a credible mechanism of separating the justness of our liberation from criminal acts,” tweeted Foreign Affairs minister and ex-prime minister Hashim Thaçi after the vote.

Thaçi had been criticized for his weak support of the tribunal. As a founding member of the KLA, he was named in a Council of Europe report as one of the heads of the criminal network.

By approving this court we are turning ourselves into a monster. — Ramush Haradinaj, leader of the opposition party Alliance for the Future of Kosovo.

“If this doesn’t pass, United States relations with this Kosovo government and future Kosovo governments will deteriorate,” one Western diplomat, referring to the legislative package on the court, told freelance reporter Chuck Sudetic in a POLITICO Forum piece. “The United States wants to demonstrate the depth of its commitment to have these allegations heard in a credible process.”

The decision to set up a court is still controversial within Kosovo. Some members of Parliament claim it will make the KLA look like a criminal group and not a liberation army.

“By approving this court we are turning ourselves into a monster,” said Ramush Haradinaj, leader of the opposition party Alliance for the Future of Kosovo. “During the war we were not monsters, we were victims.”
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