UN tribunal upholds judgments in three cases against Kosovo fighters

27 September 2007 –

The Appeals Chamber of the United Nations tribunal established to try those responsible for the worst war crimes committed in the Balkans in the 1990s today upheld the Trial Chamber’s conviction of one former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) member and acquittal of two others.

Haradin Bara, Fatmir Limaj and Isak Musliu were indicted by the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) for crimes committed against both Serb and Kosovo Albanian civilians in the KLA-run Llapushnik/Lapušnik prison camp between May and July 1998.

The Tribunal dismissed all appeals lodged by parties, affirming the conviction of Mr. Bala and the acquittals of Mr. Limaj and Mr. Musliu.

A former guard at the camp, Mr. Bala was found guilty of torture, cruel treatment and murder, and was sentenced to 13 years’ imprisonment on 30 November 2005. He was convicted by the Trial Chamber for his personal role in the “maintenance and enforcement of the inhumane conditions” of the camp; for aiding the torture of one prisoner; and for participating in nine murders of camp prisoners who were marched to the Berishe/Beriša Mountains on 25 or 26 July 1998 and then killed.

All five grounds of his appeal – including his claim of mistaken identity and his alibi – were rejected.

The Prosecution had also appealed on the grounds that a systemic joint criminal enterprise existed in which the Llapushnik/Lapušnik prison camp was “run by the KLA, the conditions in the camp amounted to a system of ill-treatment and the KLA soldiers in the camp intended to further this system of ill-treatment.”

The Appeals Chamber rejected this claim, noting that the Trial Chamber “reasonably held that it could not be ruled out that rogue KLA soldiers or so-called outsiders to the camp for personal reasons, such as revenge, mistreated or killed civilian detainees, and not in furtherance of any common plan.”

Mr. Bala will remain in ICTY custody until he his transferred to the country in which he will serve his sentence, and will receive credit for the time he has served in the Tribunal’s Detention Unit.

Mr. Limaj was not criminally responsible for the offences he was indicted for in the context of command responsibility, the Appeals Chamber said. Mr. Musliu’s acquittal was upheld because he was neither present in the camp nor did he participate in its operation.

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