It’s not every week that a former president goes on trial, so the start of the proceedings against Hashim Thaci at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers drew our attention. But it was a little like being in a time warp, not only because the issues being dealt with date back to the struggle for Kosovo’s independence at the end of the 1990’s, but also because the court is relying on case law developed under the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. It’s the return of Joint Criminal Enterprise!
Stephanie lays out the charges: ten of crimes against humanity and war crimes, including torture and persecution. She also explains how the acting prosecutor Alex Whiting is warning about witness intimidation, a feature of other trials concerning Kosovo at the ICTY, and the defence is saying that Thaci was not in charge of the guerrillas in the Kosovo Liberation Army.
The trial is of four men including Thaci, has a huge crime base, and the prosecutor has more than 300 witnesses scheduled, so this trial will run for several years.
For background on this case we did episode 30 with Kosovo journalist Una Hajdari about how the court is seen in Pristina. If you want to know more about Joint Criminal Enterprise and command responsibility, check out our episode with Elies van Sliedregt.