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Witness details in Kosovo war crimes trial 'leaked' to veterans' group

Colin Freeman
·2 mins read
A Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) veteran takes part in a protest against the indictments of former KLA members accused by the Hague of crimes against humanity  - AFP
A Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) veteran takes part in a protest against the indictments of former KLA members accused by the Hague of crimes against humanity - AFP

The Hague war crimes court is investigating a suspected security breach after a Kosovan war veterans' group claimed to have been handed a batch of secret witness files by a mysterious stranger. 

A veterans' club in Kosovo said that a person "wearing glasses, a mask and a hat" walked into their offices on Wednesday and handed over some 4,000 documents on the court's investigations into the 1990s conflict with Serbia.

Among the paperwork was details on protected witnesses in Serbia, who might give evidence against Kosovan war crimes suspects. There are fears that they could now potentially be at risk of reprisals.

According to the club's officials, investigators from the Hague-based Kosovo Specialist Chambers later turned up at the offices and retrieved the files.

The chambers declined to comment when contacted by the Daily Telegraph, or confirm the documents’ authenticity.

The Hague's work is highly sensitive in Kosovo, where former rebel commanders are still at the apex of political life. President Hashim Thaci - the rebels' former political chief - was the first to face accusations from the court's prosecutors earlier this year.

Kosovo's President Hashim Thaci - AFP
Kosovo's President Hashim Thaci - AFP

He stands accused of being "criminally responsible for nearly 100 murders". The vice-chairman of the veteran's club, Nasim Haradinaj, said the masked stranger who brought the files was an "unknown person", who also promised "he would bring more".  

Husni Gucati, the group's chairman, added that there was then an "awkward visit" by Hague officials. "Special court investigators came," he said. “They accept that it is their documents, the special court files."

The Kosovo Specialist Chambers operates under Kosovo law, but is based in the Netherlands to shield witnesses from threats at home.

Kosovo veterans fiercely oppose its work, arguing that the war with Serbia, which claimed 13,000 lives, was a justified uprising against Belgrade's oppression of Kosovo's ethnic Albanians. Many Serbian military and police officials have already been convicted of war crimes under international justice.