Kosovo War Crimes Court Begins First Case
Faizan Hashmi 8 days ago Wed 15th September 2021 | 08:50 AM
The Hague, Sept 15 (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 15th Sep, 2021 ) :The first case at a special court probing Kosovo's 1998-1999 independence conflict begins on Wednesday in The Hague, with the war crimes trial of a former rebel leader.
Mustafa, who was arrested last year while working as an adviser at Kosovo's defence ministry, is alleged to have mistreated prisoners at a detention compound in Zllash, a village east of the capital Pristina, in April 1999.
The head judge will formally open the trial on Wednesday and then read out the indictment to Mustafa, the court said in a statement.
"The accused will be asked whether he has understood the indictment and whether he wishes to confirm his earlier plea. In this case the accused has pleaded not guilty," it said.
Prosecutors will have three hours to deliver their opening statement, and lawyers for victims will then have 90 minutes to speak.
After the wars that ripped apart the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, a host of Serbian war criminals were convicted in other international courts.
Mustafa, also known as Commander Cali, allegedly ran a temporary detention centre for people accused of being spies, collaborating with Serbian forces or of not cooperating with the KLA, according to the indictment.
Detainees were allegedly held in a locked stable and subjected to "beatings with various instruments, burning and the administration of electric shocks". Some were urinated on in front of other detainees.
Mustafa is alleged to have personally beaten one detainee with a baseball bat and slapped, punched and kicked another.
The rest of the crimes were done on his orders, or he "knew or had reason to know" they were carried out by people under his command.
He was present when an alleged murder victim was brought to the detention centre and "beaten and tortured more severely than the other detainees", the indictment says.
The victim's remains were found after the KLA unit left the area.
The court's activities are highly sensitive as former rebel commanders still dominate political life in Kosovo and are treated by many as heroes.
"I believe that the international judges will establish the truth. I only believe the evidence," said law graduate Blerta Hyseni, 24.