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War crimes witness pleads to contempt

Aug. 26, 2011 at 9:57 PM

UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 26 (UPI) -- An ex-member of the Kosovo Liberation Army pleaded guilty to contempt of court for refusing to testify against former Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj.

Shefqet Kabashi, a former member of the Kosovo Liberation Army, had refused to testify in 2007 at the first trial of Haradinaj, KLA commander during its conflict with Serb forces in 1998-99, on charges of crimes against humanity, the United Nations said Friday.

Kabashi made his plea at a session of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, Netherlands, after Dutch authorities handed him over to the court this month.

The tribunal had acquitted Haradinaj in 2008 of charges of murder, rape, torture, abduction, cruel treatment, imprisonment and the forced deportation of ethnic Serbian and Kosovar Roma civilians.

But appeals judges partially quashed the acquittal last year and called for a retrial, saying more should have been done to ensure testimony of witnesses who had faced "serious intimidation, thus depriving the prosecution of vital support for its case," the United Nations said in a news release.

The tribunal said this month Kabashi's testimony was relevant because it pertained to the responsibility of Haradinaj and two others, Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj, on six counts of torture and murder of prisoners at the KLA headquarters and the prison in Jablanica.

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