EU Plans to Set Up Court for Kosovo Crimes

World Today

A Kosovo Red Cross volunteer looks at 46 coffins draped with Albanian flags containing the remains of ethnic Albanians killed during the 1998-99 Kosovo war in capital Pristina on Monday, March 24, 2014. The victims were killed in two separate rampages by Serbs forces in western Kosovo just days after NATO began a bombing campaign to stop Serbia’s onslaught on separatist ethnic Albanians on March 1999. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

The European Union plans to set up an international tribunal focusing exclusively on crimes allegedly committed by Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian rebels during their war with Serbia, according to the Associated Press. Plans for an independent tribunal indicate an admission of failure by the West to hold its ethnic Albanian allies accountable for war crimes.   The rebels had the backing of NATO during the war, and the West has firmly supported Kosovo in its efforts to emerge from the conflict as an independent state. But the ethnic Albanians have also come under increasing pressure from the international community to reckon with their own war crimes, including alleged organ harvesting. Kosovo declared independence in 2008, and it has been recognized by over 100 nations, although not by Serbia and its ally Russia.

The court is expected to start proceedings by next year, a senior EU official has stated, adding that the rules and reach of the tribunal are still being discussed with Kosovo authorities. The court is to be symbolically seated in Kosovo, but most key proceedings such as hearing witness testimony would take place in the Netherlands, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal has yet to be approved by Kosovo’s assembly.

Prosecutions of ethnic Albanian rebels — both in Kosovo and at the United Nations war crimes tribunal in the Hague, Netherlands — have been marred by widespread intimidation of witnesses and their families. Former rebels are considered by many Kosovars as heroes who fought for freedom from Serbia. Some 10,000 people died during the 1998-1999 war and about 1,700 are considered missing.

This report compiled with information from the Associated Press.