Skip to comments.Kosovo Jubilant at KLA Acquittals
Posted on 12/02/2005 3:50:24 PM PST by kronos77
Tribunal Update Tribunal home Kosovo Jubilant at KLA Acquittals
Kosovos majority Albanian population welcomes result of Hague tribunals first case against former guerrillas.
By Janet Anderson in The Hague (TU No 432, 2-Dec-05) The streets of Pristina erupted with flags, horns and celebratory gunfire on December 1 as news spread that the Hague tribunal had acquitted two of the first three members of the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, ever to face trial there for war crimes.
Judges in The Hague sentenced one former foot soldier, Haradin Bala, to 13 years in prison for his role in a KLA prison camp in the village of Lapusnik where Serbs and suspected Albanian collaborators were tortured and murdered in 1998.
But they declared themselves unconvinced that former commanders Fatmir Limaj and Isak Musliu had played any role at the facility. Limaj, who held a senior role in the guerrilla army which helped drive Belgrade security forces out of Kosovo, gained a high profile as a politician in the wake of the conflict.
While the verdict has met with a predictably downbeat response in Serbia, reactions amongst Kosovos majority ethnic Albanian population have been jubilant. Many feel that the court ruling, despite confirming that horrific individual crimes were committed, vindicates the KLA as an organisation.
The judgement comes at a particularly welcome time for Albanians in Kosovo, with talks set to begin on the future political status of the region. Most hope that the process will result in independence from Belgrade.
Observers in Pristina described a collective sense of relief as the judgement hearing in the case was broadcast live on television screens in homes and bars across Kosovo.
The resulting celebrations were a far cry from the dire predictions published in local newspapers of what might happen if the three were found guilty. Just two days before the judgement was issued, an estimated 20,000 people filed through the streets of Pristina protesting the innocence of the three men.
When Limaj went to The Hague in 2003, Kosovos then prime minister, Bajram Rexhepi, declared that the trial would give the accused a chance to prove his innocence and the purity of the war that was led by the KLA.
Some observers now see particular significance in the judges decision to dismiss charges of crimes against humanity against the three accused. They did so on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence that the atrocities at the Lapusnik camp were committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against a civilian population.
Its been understood here as a cleansing of the resistance, said Petrit Selimi, the managing director of Pristinas new Daily Express newspaper. The verdict, he explained, has been seen as recognition that there were [individual] crimes, not a campaign.
Kosovo parliamentarian Enver Hoxhaj told IWPR that the judgement is a good message while Kosovos final status talks are going on, explaining that it has given the local population a feeling that they are supported by the international community.
With Kosovos president Ibrahim Rugova in bad health and former prime minister Ramus Haradinaj currently awaiting a Hague war crimes trial, there have been concerns that Albanians will lack a strong figurehead for the talks on Kosovos future.
Analysts in Kosovo told IWPR that Limaj is viewed by some as having the potential to fill the vacuum. Selimi explained that Limaj is now viewed as a sympathetic figure because of the dignity with which he went to The Hague.
Hoxhaj, who is a senior member of Limajs Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, told IWPR that he thought Limaj would step back into the crucial role he played in the party before being indicted. We missed him, he added.
The judgement has also served to support the view that Hague tribunals first case involving former KLA fighters was in fact only launched as part of an effort to show the courts impartiality with regard to the various parties involved in the Balkans conflicts of the Nineties.
A series of senior Serbian generals and politicians, including former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, have been indicted for their role in alleged ethnic cleansing in Kosovo in 1999.
There has also been speculation about what consequences the outcome might have on the joint trial of Haradinaj and two others said to have been his subordinates in the KLA. They are charged with involvement in the abduction and murder of Serbs, Roma and suspected Albanian collaborators.
Edgar Chen, a long-time observer of proceedings at the Hague tribunal for the Coalition for International Justice, told IWPR, however, that it is important to remember that these are two distinct cases. Haradinaj is charged under a different set of alleged facts, he said. Judges will have to consider Haradinaj's case on the evidence that [prosecutors] and his defence presents.
The judges hearing the case against Limaj, Musliu and Bala in The Hague appeared keen to emphasise that the acquittal of two of the accused did not mean that crimes had not taken place.
They underlined that civilians had been held in horrific conditions at the KLA camp in Lapusnik, with gross overcrowding and some chained to the wall; KLA soldiers, often wearing hoods to hide their faces, beat inmates into unconsciousness; detainees, including some who had been shot, were denied medical treatment despite the existence of a clinic in the village where KLA personnel were treated.
Apart from three prisoners who were murdered at the camp itself, Bala was also found to have taken part in the massacre of nine prisoners in nearby mountains.
But the judges said they were not satisfied that Limaj and Musliu held positions in the KLA which would have made them responsible for the camp.
While there was a strong possibility that Limaj had been personally present at the facility, they said, there was not enough evidence to convict of personal involvement crimes there. As for Musliu, the judges ruled that there was in fact little evidence to identify... [him] as having any kind of involvement in the prison camp.
Meanwhile, reactions in Belgrade to the verdict have been unsurprisingly gloomy. Rasim Ljajic, president of Serbias National Council for Cooperation with the Hague tribunal, told the Beta news agency that the result would bolster the positions of those who are hostile to the United Nations court.
Janet Anderson is IWPRs programme manager in The Hague.
Propaganda again. Milosevic's taking control of Kosovo had little or nothing to do with the crime in Kosovo. It of course led to violence as described in the link I gave you. But there is no indication that Milosevic's actions led to more crime except to the extent that seperatists engaged in illicit activities while fighting the Serb forces.
Propaganda again. Note the word "only". Serbs took land illegally from Albanians before the war and some of those Serbs were expelled in WWII. But WWII also brought an influx of 100,000 Albanians into Kosovo while Serbia was occupied by Germany. That influx was certainly greater than what was necessary to repopulate the Serb-appropriated lands. And as the link I gave you states: Serbs (meaning all Serbs) were harassed and attacked by the occupying Albanians.
I admit there is propaganda on both sides. But your entire set of postings in this thread and some in other threads are propaganda. Hunden, if you feel you can only contribute the same propaganda on this topic, I suggest you take it to another forum and contribute here only on non-Yugoslavia threads.
That of the Serbs, who sometimes have the gall to say that they were the first inhabitants of Kosovo whereas they are only its third known invaders.
That of the Romanians, who know that their language is related to Albanian, and want to claim as their ancestors the Dacians, a Thracian tribe north of the Danube, notably to bolster their territorial claims on Transylvania.
You didn't mention the Thracian thesis, dear to 19th century balkanologist Gustav Weigand, but it is the only alternative to the claim that the Albanians are indeed the descendants of the Illyrians. Or used to be, since it is now established that the Bessi, the only Thracian tribe which had retained its language in the 6th century, were exposed to Christianity in their own language, whereas it is obvious that the proto-Albanians received it in Latin.
There is much more evidence, notably archaeologic, that the Illyrians were indeed the ancestors of the Albanians, and those who deny it now are acting in bad faith.
Now if you consider first ownership to be irrelevant to the issue of legitimate property, it only proves that you are a bad political philosopher as well as an ignorant in Balkan history. The fact that I am not does not make me a propagandist: it only enables me to refute you without using any documentation. To paraphrase your arrogant formula: take your incompetence elsewhere. What is wrong about knowing what one is talking about?
I admit I am not well versed in ancient Balkan history which is why I provided you with a link. Here it is again: http://lamar.colostate.edu/~grjan/kosovohistory.html There are many other similarly unbiased sources available.
take your incompetence elsewhere
I don't need to be competent to recognize propaganda and I will continue to point it out when you post it. If you choose to debate this topic (which I advise against since you seem to be thoroughly biased), please do so in a more respectful manner rather than labelling people you disagree with as ignorant. Not just me in this thread, but others in other threads. I await your apology.
On the other hand, in your confusion of even-handedness with objectivity, you fall once again for a pure lie of Serb propaganda: no evidence of any mass Albanian migration during the war can be found in any of the documents of the occupying powers. Only a few thousand people did move from Albania into Kosovo: some were officials brought in by the Italians or Germans, and the rest were Kosovars who had emigrated to Albania as a result of Belgrade's policy of ethnic cleansing during the inter-war years.
The Albanians from Albania had no reason to move into Kosovo, a disputed and already overcrowded area, before they came under the tyranny of Enver Hoxha (and after that, they couldn't. Like half of the Serb's lies, this one can be exposed by a mere few seconds' reflection upon its plausibility.
Of course, I have alternative information.
The judgement I cast on "ethnic cleansing" is therefore dependent on whom I deem to be the legitimate owners of the country.
Since the Kosovars had every right to live in Kosovo, and the Bosniaks in Bosnia, their forced expulsion was certainly criminal, and the attendant murders and plunder would have been in any case.
Any why would there be? I assume the 100,000 figure came from Serbian sources who documented 70,000 refugees from Kosovo (and estimated 30,000 more went elsewhere or didn't register). Then they assumed that the 100,000 were replaced with Albanians unless there are other sources of documentation. But to simply point to lack of records in Germany and Italy is ridiculous. Did they document all the Jews and others that they killed?
The Albanians from Albania had no reason to move into Kosovo
They made it part of Greater Albania which could only be realized by military force and changing the majority from Serbian to Albanian which is what happened during WWII.
Therefore you wouldn't have a problem with the legitimate owners of the American Southwest, descendants of hispanics and indians, performing ethnic cleansing on the white minority there.
But you don't even understand what you are saying. The Serbian occupation of Kosovo was itself a massive and unending series of criminal acts, including theft, arson, beatings, murders, false arrests, poisoning, forced expulsions and rapes. To say that crime did not rise after the forced annexation of Kosovo to Serbia is a denial of reality.
And there was practically no retaliatory violence from the Albanians until 1996:
"And, as far as terrorist acts are concerned, I can quote some data from our Interior Ministry.
"Let's say : In 1991, there were 11 terrorist actions, in 1992 12, in 1993 8, in 1994 6, in 1995 11, but in 1998, after Milosevic had started creating ethnic conflict, there were 1,855 such terrorist actions. It shows that the growth of terrorism in Kosovo a consequence of ethnic cleansing, not its cause.
(Ratomir Tanic interview with Radio Free Europe, 7 March 2001.
Ratomir Tanic led a secret Serbian negotiation team with the Kosovar Albanians until 1997. http://www.danas.org/programi/interview/2001/03/20010307075519.asp)
Besides, the main reason why illicit activities are more developed in Kosovo than they should (in spite of being no more so than in any other European country) is that Milosevic destroyed the local police in 1990 to reassert the alleged "rights" of Serbia over the country.
I argued that the Milosevic's takeover had nothing to do with Albanian crime. Now you are arguing something new, that the Albanians didn't retaliate against Serbian repression. Whether they did or didn't, it doesn't explain your hypothesis that Albanian criminality is Milosevic's fault. In fact, it implies the opposite.
Neither the Germans nor the Italians had any reason to conceal administrative records with no link to any kind of criminal activity. .
There was no "greater Albanian" policy on the part of the Italians, other than the annexation to Albania of southern Kosovo and Western Macedonia, which had already a majority of Albanians.
And even less on the part of the the Germans, who kept northern Kosovo in Serbia, despite its majority Albanian population.
Neither had the means to impose a policy of massive resettlement on the recalcitrant Albanians during a world war, neither had any reason to engage in one and there is no contrary historical evidence whatsoever.
You have been repeating a Serb lie and, like most Serbs, without even knowing it was one. And now you engage in fantasy, with even less plausibility, to rationalize your gullibility.
Whether you accept it or not, 60 percent what the Serbs say about Balkan history is false, and the proportion rises to 90 percent when the issue is Kosovo. That is, three times the level of mendacity of the Albanians or, for that matter, of the Croats. You can't be "even-handed" if you don't take those proportions into account but of course you can only evaluate them after studying the subject seriously.
And 80% of statistics are made up on the spot. Of course I realize that Serbian history is biased, that's why I gave you an unbiased link. No, you said, it is merely "even-handed" because it repeats Serb lies. Obviously you cannot prove that there wasn't substantial Albanian migration into Kosovo during WWII, just as much as I can't prove there was. But what I don't accept is your blind bias against any facts that may benefit the Serbian case. You are a propagandist. Or a true believer in something, I'm not sure what. Here's Wikipedia on Greater Albania:
During World War II, the dream of a Great Albania became a reality with the fall of Yugoslavia in 1941. Great Albania was established under Italian tutelage including most of Kosovo, Metohia and parts of Vardar Macedonia, Western part of Aegean Macedonia, and parts of Greek's Epirus
In post 40 you said: The only Serbs expelled during the Italian occupation of Kosovo were colonists who had been settled there on land stolen from the Albanians by the policy of ethnic cleansing imposed by the Yugoslav government before the war.
I pointed out that post 40 was propaganda, so you watered it down a little. Don't you realize that watered down propaganda is still propaganda? You haven't answered my question. Do you support the ethnic cleansing of white colonists from Southwest America (or all of American for that matter)?
The text you have provided a link to is not partisan but contains a lot of inaccuracies and the bibliography is ridiculous, as it includes no professional historian of the region and not even the best journalists who have analyzed recent developments: it obviously does not come from a Balkan specialist.
Another consequence of such ignorance which you are unwilling to admit is that you are not as able as I am to judge who is biased and who isn't.
You simply won't accept that there is a side which is more criminal and dishonest than the others, while there obviously is, if only for reasons of cultural history and relative military might, so that your attempt to be even-handed results in your systematic acceptance of the lies from one side.
If a layman were to seek evidence of your bias, he would have to look no further than the fact that you have repeatedly accused me of "propaganda", while ignoring the irrelevant abuse and ridiculous inventions of the others but maybe you don't claim to recognize irrelevant abuse like you claim to "recognize propaganda"?
You are a hypocrite.
You still haven't understood what I meant, and i am not going to help you.
I do recognize that there are people biased towards Serbia repeating Serb propaganda. I pointed that out up in the thread (post 43). I didn't point it out to those posters because they have been here much longer than you have and we have argued about Kosovo before. But I was being a bit hypocritical in targetting your propaganda and not theirs. Nonetheless, it doesn't suddenly turn your propaganda into truth. You are a propagandist or a true believer in Greater Albania or something. There is no doubt that you are one of the two. If you really are a true believer, then explain why, maybe your family was kicked around by the Serbs?
Your explanation of why your colonialism logic doesn't apply to whites in America, Jews in Palestine, or any of many similar situations does not hold water. Nobody can be that focussed on one part of one country without being aware of analogous situations.
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