Cartoon on Bush and independence of Kosovo


Steve Bell cartoon on Bush and independence of Kosovo

This is a Steve Bell cartoon from Britain, on George W. Bush and independence of Kosovo. It shows Bush behind a big flag of Albania, with a NATO flag, a United States flag, damaged European Union flags and a banned United Nations flag.

The case of Kosovo: “Self-determination” as an instrument of imperialist policy: here.

Kosovo: The Hague acquits former PM Haradinaj of war crimes amid alleged witness intimidation: here.

12 thoughts on “Cartoon on Bush and independence of Kosovo

  1. U.S. Hands Off Serbia!
    U.S./Nato OUT of the Balkans!
    No to a new U.S. colony in Kosovo!

    A Giant U.S. Military Base and Total Domination Is the Reality – NOT Independence
    Serbian Demonstrators Show Resistance to U.S. Colonial-Style Land Seizure

    The demonstration of over 500,000 people in Belgrade and the attack on the U.S. Embassy show the depth of outrage and anger over the seizure of the Serbian province of Kosovo. In the past three days two Kosovo border posts were destroyed, one by fire the other in an explosion, along with ten McDonald’s outlets and several Western banks and other hated targets.

    The Western media had overwhelming applauded the U.S. destruction in 1999 and it now has a responsibility to explain the reason for the mass anger of millions of people. The outrage is because the province of Kosovo is not actually being granted “independence.” Millions of people see this week’s recognition of Kosovo “independence” as an effort to legitimize a direct U.S. colony and to permanently secure a giant U.S. military base in the region.

    Regarding the hypocritical condemnation by Washington that angry demonstrators had targeted the U.S. Embassy, it should be remembered that when the U.S. bombed Serbia for 78 days in 1999, U.S. bombs destroyed the Chinese Embassy. Nineteen other diplomatic and consular missions were damaged in the U.S. bombing, along with 480 schools and 33 hospitals, heating plants, sewage plants, bridges, communications, the electric grid and other civilian targets.

    The “declaration of independence” by Kosovo, a province of Serbia, and its immediate recognition as a state by the U.S., Germany, Britain and France, is a fraud. Three things should be understood about the events this week.

    First, Kosovo is not gaining independence or even minimal self-government. Kosovo will be run by an appointed High Representative and bodies appointed by the U.S., European Union and NATO. An old-style colonial viceroy and imperialist administrators will have control over all aspects of foreign and domestic policy. Washington has merely consolidated its direct control of a totally dependent colony in the heart of the Balkans.

    Second, Washington’s immediate recognition of Kosovo confirms once again that the U.S. government will break any and every treaty or international agreement it has ever signed, including agreements it drafted and imposed by force and violence on others.

    The recognition of Kosovo is in direct violation of such law—specifically U.N. Security Council Resolution 1244, which the leaders of Yugoslavia were forced to sign to end the 78 days of NATO bombing of their country in 1999. Even this imposed agreement affirmed the “commitment of all Member States to the sovereignty and territorial integrity” of Serbia, a republic of Yugoslavia.

    Thirdly, U.S. imperialist domination does not benefit the occupied people. Kosovo after nine years of direct NATO military occupation has a staggering 60 percent unemployment rate. It has become a center of the international drug trade and of prostitution rings in Europe.

    The once humming mines, mills, smelters, refining centers and railroads of this small resource-rich industrial area all sit silent. The resources of Kosovo under NATO occupation were forcibly privatized and sold to giant Western multinational corporations. Now almost the only employment is working for the U.S./NATO army of occupation or U.N. agencies.

    The only major construction in Kosovo is of Camp Bondsteel, the largest U.S. base built in Europe in a generation. Halliburton, of course, got the contract. The U.S. base guards the strategic oil and transportation lines of the entire region.

    Over 250,000 Serbian, Romani and other nationalities have been driven out of this Serbian province since it came under U.S./NATO control. Almost a quarter of the Albanian population has been forced to leave in order to find work.

    The plan under which Kosovo’s “independence” is recognized by the U.S, Germany, France and Britain not only violates U.N. resolutions but it is consolidates a total colonial structure. It is similar to the absolute power held by L. Paul Bremer in the first two years of the U.S. occupation of Iraq. The documents setting out the new government for Kosovo are available at unosek.org/unosek/en/statusproposal.html. A summary is available on the U.S. State Department’s Web site at state.gov/p/eur/rls/fs/100058.htm

    An International Civilian Representative (ICR) will be appointed by U.S. and E.U. officials to oversee Kosovo. This appointed official can overrule any measures, annul any laws and remove anyone from office in Kosovo. The ICR will have full and final control over the departments of Customs, Taxation, Treasury and Banking.

    The E.U. will establish a European Security and Defense Policy Mission (ESDP) and NATO will establish an International Military Presence. Both these appointed bodies will have control over foreign policy, security, police, judiciary, all courts and prisons. They are guaranteed immediate and complete access to any activity, proceeding or document in Kosovo.

    These bodies and the ICR will have final say over what crimes can be prosecuted and against whom; they can reverse or annul any decision made. The largest prison in Kosovo is at the U.S. base, Camp Bondsteel, where prisoners are held without charges, judicial overview or representation.

    The recognition of Kosovo’s “independence” is just the latest step in a U.S. war of re- conquest of this strategic region. But as yesterday’s massive demonstration shows this reckless and illegal maneuver may unleash a whirlwind of opposition and resistance.

    U.S. Hands Off Serbia!
    U.S./Nato OUT of the Balkans!
    No to a new U.S. colony in Kosovo!

    The International Action Center sent a delegation to Serbia during the US/NATO bombing in 1999 and has published several books on the crisis in the Balkans, including Hidden Agenda: U.S./NATO Takeover of Yugoslavia, NATO in the Balkans: Voices of Opposition, and The Defense Speaks for History and the Future – all available from Leftbooks.com.

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    http://iacenter.org/action_list/

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  2. To: Irish Government Spokespersons on Foreign Affairs –
    Dear Minister and Spokespersons –
    Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr Dermot Ahern TD stated today (1.00pm 16.2.2008 on Irelands’s national broadcasting service RTE) that he would be pushing for the recognition of Kosovo as an independent state.
    Items hereunder compiled and distributed by People Against War Network – 16.2.2008

    Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr Dermot Ahern TD stated today (1.00pm 16.2.2008 on Irelands’s national broadcasting service RTE) that he would be pushing for the recognition of Kosovo as an independent state.
    Items hereunder compiled and distributed by People Against War Network – 16.2.2008
    Articles 1, 2 and 3 re – DRUGS TRAFFICKING AND HUMAN TRAFFICKING WARLORDS TO RUN EUROPE’S ILLEGALLY ESTABLISHED SO CALLED NEW DEMOCRATIC STATE – KOSOVO –
    Articles 4 to 8 re – INDEPENDENCE OF A STATE MUST BE ESTABLISHED LEGALLY –THERE IS NO LEGALITY TO A UNILATERAL DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE BY KOSOVO FORMER TERRORIST LEADERS –
    Article 9 – DECEPTION AT ALL LEVELS –

    1. Extract from article – Kosovo: The US and the EU support a Political Process linked to Organized Crime
    Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci is part of a criminal syndicate by Professor Michel Chossudovsky-
    “Our orientations are clear. The building of the state of Kosova, economic development, economic and social well-being and rigorous measures against corruption, organized crime and negative behavior, so we can have improved security and integrate Kosova into European Union structures.
    (Hashim Thaci, chairman of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), Prime Minister of the Kosovo provisional government, former KLA leader and known criminal)
    The PDK, led by Hashim Thaci, former Kosovan Liberation Army commander, took control of many municipalities after the war. The party has close links with organized crime in the province. (The Observer, 29 October 2000)
    Mr. Thaci, nicknamed “the Snake” during his KLA days, is a sharp-suited 32-year-old former rebel commander with poor oratory skills, links to organized crime and a determination to preserve relations between his party and the United States (The Scotsman, 20 October 2000)
    Hashim Thaci founded the “Drenica-Group” an underground organization that is estimated to have controlled between 10% and 15% of all criminal activities in Kosovo (smuggling arms, stolen cars, oil, cigarettes and prostitution). Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia
    The US, the EU and the UN are supporting a Kosovo government headed by a known criminal, Prime Minister Hashim Thaci.”
    2. The Criminalization of the State: “Independent Kosovo”, a Territory under US-NATO Military Rule by Professor Michel Chossudovsky Global Research, February 4, 2008 http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7996 Full article posted later.
    3. KOSOVO “FREEDOM FIGHTERS” FINANCED BY ORGANISED CRIME by Michel Chossudovsky of Global Research 10th April 1999 –
    Heralded by the global media as a humanitarian peace-keeping mission, NATO’s ruthless bombing of Belgrade and Pristina goes far beyond the breach of international law. While Slobodan Milosevic is demonised, portrayed as a remorseless dictator, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) is upheld as a self-respecting nationalist movement struggling for the rights of ethnic Albanians. The truth of the matter is that the KLA is sustained by organised crime with the tacit approval of the United States and its allies.
    Following a pattern set during the War in Bosnia, public opinion has been carefully misled. The multibillion dollar Balkans narcotics trade has played a crucial role in “financing the conflict” in Kosovo in accordance with Western economic, strategic and military objectives. Amply documented by European police files, acknowledged by numerous studies, the links of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) to criminal syndicates in Albania, Turkey and the European Union have been known to Western governments and intelligence agencies since the mid-1990s.
    ” … The financing of the Kosovo guerrilla war poses critical questions and it sorely tests claims of an “ethical” foreign policy. Should the West back a guerrilla army that appears to partly financed by organised crime.”[1]
    While KLA leaders were shaking hands with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright at Rambouillet, Europol (the European Police Organization based in The Hague) was “preparing a report for European interior and justice ministers on a connection between the KLA and Albanian drug gangs.”[2] In the meantime, the rebel army has been skillfully heralded by the global media (in the months preceding the NATO bombings) as broadly representative of the interests of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.
    With KLA leader Hashim Thaci (a 29 year “freedom fighter”) appointed as chief negotiator at Rambouillet, the KLA has become the de facto helmsman of the peace process on behalf of the ethnic Albanian majority and this despite its links to the drug trade. The West was relying on its KLA puppets to rubber-stamp an agreement which would have transformed Kosovo into an occupied territory under Western Administration.
    Ironically Robert Gelbard, America’s special envoy to Bosnia, had described the KLA last year [1998] as “terrorists”. Christopher Hill, America’s chief negotiator and architect of the Rambouillet agreement, “has also been a strong critic of the KLA for its alleged dealings in drugs.”[3] Moreover, barely a few two months before Rambouillet, the US State Department had acknowledged (based on reports from the US Observer Mission) the role of the KLA in terrorising and uprooting ethnic Albanians:
    ” … the KLA harass or kidnap anyone who comes to the police, … KLA representatives had threatened to kill villagers and burn their homes if they did not join the KLA [a process which has continued since the NATO bombings]… [T]he KLA harassment has reached such intensity that residents of six villages in the Stimlje region are “ready to flee.”[4]
    While backing a “freedom movement” with links to the drug trade, the West seems also intent in bypassing the civilian Kosovo Democratic League and its leader Ibrahim Rugova who has called for an end to the bombings and expressed his desire to negotiate a peaceful settlement with the Yugoslav authorities.[5] It is worth recalling that a few days before his March 31 Press Conference, Rugova had been reported by the KLA (alongside three other leaders including Fehmi Agani) to have been killed by the Serbs.
    Covert financing of “freedom fighters”
    Remember Oliver North and the Contras? The pattern in Kosovo is similar to other CIA covert operations in Central America, Haiti and Afghanistan where “freedom fighters” were financed through the laundering of drug money. Since the onslaught of the Cold War, Western intelligence agencies have developed a complex relationship to the illegal narcotics trade. In case after case, drug money laundered in the international banking system has financed covert operations.
    According to author Alfred McCoy, the pattern of covert financing was established in the Indochina war. In the 1960s, the Meo army in Laos was funded by the narcotics trade as part of Washington’s military strategy against the combined forces of the neutralist government of Prince Souvanna Phouma and the Pathet Lao.[6]
    The pattern of drug politics set in Indochina has since been replicated in Central America and the Caribbean. “The rising curve of cocaine imports to the US”, wrote journalist John Dinges “followed almost exactly the flow of US arms and military advisers to Central America”.[7]
    The military in Guatemala and Haiti, to which the CIA provided covert support, were known to be involved in the trade of narcotics into Southern Florida. And as revealed in the Iran-Contra and Bank of Commerce and Credit International (BCCI) scandals, there was strong evidence that covert operations were funded through the laundering of drug money. “Dirty money” recycled through the banking system–often through an anonymous shell company– became “covert money,” used to finance various rebel groups and guerrilla movements including the Nicaraguan Contras and the Afghan Mujahadeen. According to a 1991 Time magazine report:
    “Because the US wanted to supply the mujehadeen rebels in Afghanistan with stinger missiles and other military hardware it needed the full cooperation of Pakistan. By the mid-1980s, the CIA operation in Islamabad was one of the largest US intelligence stations in the World. ‘If BCCI is such an embarrassment to the US that forthright investigations are not being pursued it has a lot to do with the blind eye the US turned to the heroin trafficking in Pakistan’, said a US intelligence officer.”[8]
    America and Germany join hands
    Since the early 1990s, Bonn and Washington have joined hands in establishing their respective spheres of influence in the Balkans. Their intelligence agencies have also collaborated. According to intelligence analyst John Whitley, covert support to the Kosovo rebel army was established as a joint endeavour between the CIA and Germany’s Bundes Nachrichten Dienst (BND) (which previously played a key role in installing a right-wing nationalist government under Franjo Tudjman in Croatia).[9] The task to create and finance the KLA was initially given to Germany: “They used German uniforms, East German weapons and were financed, in part, with drug money”.[10] According to Whitley, the CIA was subsequently instrumental in training and equipping the KLA in Albania.[11]
    The covert activities of Germany’s BND were consistent with Bonn’s intent to expand its “Lebensraum” into the Balkans. Prior to the onset of the civil war in Bosnia, Germany and its Foreign Minister Hans Dietrich Genscher had actively supported secession; it had “forced the pace of international diplomacy” and pressured its Western allies to recognize Slovenia and Croatia. According to the Geopolitical Drug Watch, both Germany and the US favoured (although not officially) the formation of a “Greater Albania” encompassing Albania, Kosovo and parts of Macedonia.[12] According to Sean Gervasi, Germany was seeking a free hand among its allies “to pursue economic dominance in the whole of Mitteleuropa.”[13]
    Islamic fundamentalism in support of the KLA
    Bonn and Washington’s “hidden agenda” consisted in triggering nationalist liberation movements in Bosnia and Kosovo with the ultimate purpose of destabilising Yugoslavia. The latter objective was also carried out “by turning a blind eye” to the influx of mercenaries and financial support from Islamic fundamentalist organisations.[14]
    Mercenaries financed by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait had been fighting in Bosnia.[15] And the Bosnian pattern was replicated in Kosovo: Mujahadeen mercenaries from various Islamic countries are reported to be fighting alongside the KLA in Kosovo. German, Turkish and Afghan instructors were reported to be training the KLA in guerrilla and diversion tactics.[16]
    According to a Deutsche Press-Agentur report, financial support from Islamic countries to the KLA had been channelled through the former Albanian chief of the National Information Service (NIS), Bashkim Gazidede.[17] “Gazidede, reportedly a devout Moslem who fled Albania in March of last year [1997], is presently [1998] being investigated for his contacts with Islamic terrorist organizations.”[18]
    The supply route for arming KLA “freedom fighters” are the rugged mountainous borders of Albania with Kosovo and Macedonia. Albania is also a key point of transit of the Balkans drug route which supplies Western Europe with grade four heroin. Seventy-five percent of the heroin entering Western Europe is from Turkey. And a large part of drug shipments originating in Turkey transits through the Balkans. According to the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), “it is estimated that 4-6 metric tons of heroin leave each month from Turkey having [through the Balkans] as destination Western Europe.”[19] A recent intelligence report by Germany’s Federal Criminal Agency suggests that: “Ethnic Albanians are now the most prominent group in the distribution of heroin in Western consumer countries.”[20]
    The laundering of dirty money
    In order to thrive, the criminal syndicates involved in the Balkans narcotics trade need friends in high places. Smuggling rings with alleged links to the Turkish State are said to control the trafficking of heroin through the Balkans “cooperating closely with other groups with which they have political or religious ties” including criminal groups in Albanian and Kosovo.[21] In this new global financial environment, powerful undercover political lobbies connected to organized crime cultivate links to prominent political figures and officials of the military and intelligence establishment.
    The narcotics trade nonetheless uses respectable banks to launder large amounts of dirty money. While comfortably removed from the smuggling operations per se, powerful banking interests in Turkey but mainly those in financial centres in Western Europe discretely collect fat commissions in a multibillion dollar money laundering operation. These interests have high stakes in ensuring a safe passage of drug shipments into Western European markets.
    The Albanian connection
    Arms smuggling from Albania into Kosovo and Macedonia started at the beginning of 1992, when the Democratic Party came to power, headed by President Sali Berisha. An expansive underground economy and cross border trade had unfolded. A triangular trade in oil, arms and narcotics had developed largely as a result of the embargo imposed by the international community on Serbia and Montenegro and the blockade enforced by Greece against Macedonia.
    Industry and agriculture in Kosovo were spearheaded into bankruptcy following the IMF’s lethal “economic medicine” imposed on Belgrade in 1990. The embargo was imposed on Yugoslavia. Ethnic Albanians and Serbs were driven into abysmal poverty. Economic collapse created an environment which fostered the progress of illicit trade. In Kosovo, the rate of unemployment increased to a staggering 70 percent (according to Western sources).
    Poverty and economic collapse served to exacerbate simmering ethnic tensions. Thousands of unemployed youths “barely out of their teens” from an impoverished population, were drafted into the ranks of the KLA …[22]
    In neighbouring Albania, the free market reforms adopted since 1992 had created conditions which favoured the criminalisation of state institutions. Drug money was also laundered in the Albanian pyramids (ponzi schemes) which mushroomed during the government of former President Sali Berisha (1992-1997).[23] These shady investment funds were an integral part of the economic reforms inflicted by Western creditors on Albania.
    Drug barons in Kosovo, Albania and Macedonia (with links to the Italian Mafia) had become the new economic elites, often associated with Western business interests. In turn the financial proceeds of the trade in drugs and arms were recycled towards other illicit activities (and vice versa) including a vast prostitution racket between Albania and Italy. Albanian criminal groups operating in Milan, “have become so powerful running prostitution rackets that they have even taken over the Calabrians in strength and influence.”[24]
    The application of “strong economic medicine” under the guidance of the Washington based Bretton Woods institutions had contributed to wrecking Albania’s banking system and precipitating the collapse of the Albanian economy. The resulting chaos enabled American and European transnationals to carefully position themselves. Several Western oil companies including Occidental, Shell and British Petroleum had their eyes riveted on Albania’s abundant and unexplored oil-deposits. Western investors were also gawking Albania’s extensive reserves of chrome, copper, gold, nickel and platinum…. The Adenauer Foundation had been lobbying in the background on behalf of German mining interests.[25]
    Berisha’s Minister of Defence Safet Zoulali (alleged to have been involved in the illegal oil and narcotics trade) was the architect of the agreement with Germany’s Preussag (handing over control over Albania’s chrome mines) against the competing bid of the US led consortium of Macalloy Inc. in association with Rio Tinto Zimbabwe (RTZ).[26]
    Large amounts of narco-dollars had also been recycled into the privatisation programmes leading to the acquisition of state assets by the mafias. In Albania, the privatisation programme had led virtually overnight to the development of a property owning class firmly committed to the “free market”. In Northern Albania, this class was associated with the Guegue “families” linked to the Democratic Party.
    Controlled by the Democratic Party under the presidency of Sali Berisha (1992-97), Albania’s largest financial “pyramid” VEFA Holdings had been set up by the Guegue “families” of Northern Albania with the support of Western banking interests. VEFA was under investigation in Italy in 1997 for its ties to the Mafia which allegedly used VEFA to launder large amounts of dirty money.[27]
    According to one press report (based on intelligence sources), senior members of the Albanian government during the presidency of Sali Berisha including cabinet members and members of the secret police SHIK were alleged to be involved in drugs trafficking and illegal arms trading into Kosovo:
    “(…) The allegations are very serious. Drugs, arms, contraband cigarettes all are believed to have been handled by a company run openly by Albania’s ruling Democratic Party, Shqiponja (…). In the course of 1996 Defence Minister, Safet Zhulali [was alleged] to had used his office to facilitate the transport of arms, oil and contraband cigarettes. (…) Drugs barons from Kosovo (…) operate in Albania with impunity, and much of the transportation of heroin and other drugs across Albania, from Macedonia and Greece en route to Italy, is believed to be organised by Shik, the state security police (…). Intelligence agents are convinced the chain of command in the rackets goes all the way to the top and have had no hesitation in naming ministers in their reports.”[28]
    The trade in narcotics and weapons was allowed to prosper despite the presence since 1993 of a large contingent of American troops at the Albanian-Macedonian border with a mandate to enforce the embargo. The West had turned a blind eye. The revenues from oil and narcotics were used to finance the purchase of arms (often in terms of direct barter): “Deliveries of oil to Macedonia (skirting the Greek embargo [in 1993-4] can be used to cover heroin, as do deliveries of kalachnikov rifles to Albanian ‘brothers’ in Kosovo”.[29]
    The Northern tribal clans or “fares” had also developed links with Italy’s crime syndicates.[30] In turn, the latter played a key role in smuggling arms across the Adriatic into the Albanian ports of Dures and Valona. At the outset in 1992, the weapons channelled into Kosovo were largely small arms including Kalashnikov AK-47 rifles, RPK and PPK machine-guns, 12.7 calibre heavy machine-guns, etc.
    The proceeds of the narcotics trade has enabled the KLA to rapidly develop a force of some 30,000 men. More recently, the KLA has acquired more sophisticated weaponry including anti-aircraft and anti-armor rockets. According to Belgrade, some of the funds have come directly from the CIA “funnelled through a so-called ‘Government of Kosovo’ based in Geneva, Switzerland. Its Washington office employs the public-relations firm of Ruder Finn–notorious for its slanders of the Belgrade government”.[31]
    The KLA has also acquired electronic surveillance equipment which enables it to receive NATO satellite information concerning the movement of the Yugoslav Army. The KLA training camp in Albania is said to “concentrate on heavy weapons training–rocket propelled grenades, medium caliber cannons, tanks and transporter use, as well as on communications, and command and control”. (According to Yugoslav government sources).[32]
    These extensive deliveries of weapons to the Kosovo rebel army were consistent with Western geopolitical objectives. Not surprisingly, there has been a “deafening silence” of the international media regarding the Kosovo arms-drugs trade. In the words of a 1994 Report of the Geopolitical Drug Watch: “the trafficking [of drugs and arms] is basically being judged on its geostrategic implications (…) In Kosovo, drugs and weapons trafficking is fuelling geopolitical hopes and fears”…[33]
    The fate of Kosovo had already been carefully laid out prior to the signing of the 1995 Dayton agreement. NATO had entered an unwholesome “marriage of convenience” with the mafia. “Freedom fighters” were put in place, the narcotics trade enabled Washington and Bonn to “finance the Kosovo conflict” with the ultimate objective of destabilising the Belgrade government and fully recolonising the Balkans. The destruction of an entire country is the outcome. Western governments which participated in the NATO operation bear a heavy burden of responsibility in the deaths of civilians, the impoverishment of both the ethnic Albanian and Serbian populations and the plight of those who were brutally uprooted from towns and villages in Kosovo as a result of the bombings.
    Notes:
    1. Roger Boyes and Eske Wright, Drugs Money Linked to the Kosovo Rebels, The Times, London, Monday, March 24, 1999.
    2. Ibid.
    3. Philip Smucker and Tim Butcher, “Shifting stance over KLA has betrayed’ Albanians”, Daily Telegraph, London, 6 April 1999
    4. KDOM Daily Report, released by the Bureau of European and Canadian Affairs, Office of South Central European Affairs, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC, December 21, 1998; Compiled by EUR/SCE (202-647-4850) from daily reports of the US element of the Kosovo Diplomatic Observer Mission, December 21, 1998.
    5. “Rugova, sous protection serbe appelle a l’arret des raides”, Le Devoir, Montreal, 1 April 1999.
    6. See Alfred W. McCoy, The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, Harper and Row, New York, 1972.
    7. See John Dinges, Our Man in Panama, The Shrewd Rise and Brutal Fall of Manuel Noriega, Times Books, New York, 1991.
    8. “The Dirtiest Bank of All,” Time, July 29, 1991, p. 22.
    9. Truth in Media, Phoenix, 2 April, 1999; see also Michel Collon, Poker Menteur, editions EPO, Brussels, 1997.
    10. Quoted in Truth in Media, Phoenix, 2 April, 1999).
    11. Ibid.
    12. Geopolitical Drug Watch, No 32, June 1994, p. 4
    13. Sean Gervasi, “Germany, US and the Yugoslav Crisis”, Covert Action Quarterly, No. 43, Winter 1992-93).
    14. See Daily Telegraph, 29 December 1993.
    15. For further details see Michel Collon, Poker Menteur, editions EPO, Brussels, 1997, p. 288.
    16. Truth in Media, Kosovo in Crisis, Phoenix, 2 April 1999.
    17. Deutsche Presse-Agentur, March 13, 1998.
    18. Ibid.
    19. Daily News, Ankara, 5 March 1997.
    20. Quoted in Boyes and Wright, op cit.
    21. ANA, Athens, 28 January 1997, see also Turkish Daily News, 29 January 1997.
    22. Brian Murphy, KLA Volunteers Lack Experience, The Associated Press, 5 April 1999.
    23. See Geopolitical Drug Watch, No. 35, 1994, p. 3, see also Barry James, in Balkans, Arms for Drugs, The International Herald Tribune, Paris, June 6, 1994.
    24. The Guardian, 25 March 1997.
    25. For further details see Michel Chossudovsky, La crisi albanese, Edizioni Gruppo Abele, Torino, 1998.
    26. Ibid.
    27. Andrew Gumbel, The Gangster Regime We Fund, The Independent, February 14, 1997, p. 15.
    28. Ibid.
    29. Geopolitical Drug Watch, No. 35, 1994, p. 3.
    30. Geopolitical Drug Watch, No 66, p. 4.
    31. Quoted in Workers’ World, May 7, 1998.
    32. See Government of Yugoslavia at http://www.gov.yu/terrorism/terroristcamps.html.
    33. Geopolitical Drug Watch, No 32, June 1994, p. 4.\
    ________________________________________

    Michel Chossudovsky is the author of the international bestseller America’s “War on Terrorism” Global Research, 2005. He is Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Center for Research on Globalization.

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  3. Dick Marty Envoyer à un(e) ami(e) Imprimer

    Le Kosovo, a proclamé son indépendance de manière unilatérale le 17 février 2008. Que sera le Kosovo de demain ? En reconnaissant l’indépendance du Kosovo – qui héberge actuellement la plus grande base militaire US du monde – les États-Unis, l’Allemagne, la France, la Suisse n’ont-ils pas enfreint le droit international, créé une nouvelle injustice à l’égard du peuple serbe, rallumé des feux mal éteints, préparant ainsi le terrain à de nouvelles confrontations violentes dans les Balkans ? Nous avons interrogé à ce sujet le sénateur (radical-démocratique) Dick Marty, en sa qualité de président de la Commission de politique extérieure du Conseil des États de la Confédération helvétique.

    Interview par Silvia Cattori*
    12 MARS 2008
    http://www.voltairenet.org/article155903.html

    Silvia Cattori : La Suisse a tout de suite reconnu l’indépendance du Kosovo. Dans le cadre de la Commission de politique extérieure du Conseil des États de la Confédération helvétique dont vous assumez la présidence, vous n’étiez pas favorable à ce que la Suisse se précipite dans une reconnaissance rapide du Kosovo alors que, de son côté, la ministre suisse des Affaires étrangères, Madame Calmy-Rey, avait, dès 2006, clairement affirmé que le Kosovo avait droit à l’indépendance. Cette reconnaissance n’est-elle pas un précédent dangereux ?

    Dick Marty : Je n’ai jamais compris la position de Madame Calmy-Rey ! Il eut été compréhensible qu’elle se réfère à une autonomie, à une solution confédérale s’apparentant au modèle suisse. Dans le cadre de la Commission de politique extérieure, où nous avions à donner notre avis, nous avons reçu une information incomplète. Le Département des Affaires étrangères nous a présenté un dossier pratiquement vide : la version du droit international, selon le point de vue du Département, tenait sur une page et demie. C’est tout. Beaucoup de commissaires n’étaient pas bien informés. Tous les socialistes ont voté l’indépendance du Kosovo, par simple réflexe, en défense de leur Conseillère fédérale.

    Silvia Cattori : La précipitation de la Suisse dans ce dossier vous a donc surpris ?

    Dick Marty : Je ne comprends pas que le Conseil fédéral n’ait pas attendu davantage. Il y a quelque chose qui m’échappe. L’indépendance du Kosovo n’a pas été décidée à Pristina. La majorité des pays n’ont pas reconnu le Kosovo et ne le reconnaîtront pas.

    Silvia Cattori : En reconnaissant le Kosovo, pensez-vous que la Suisse, petit pays neutre, met le doigt dans un engrenage d’intérêts correspondant aux visées stratégiques de grandes puissances au sein de l’OTAN ?

    Dick Marty : Je constate que le droit international et la neutralité, c’est un peu comme le parmesan. On le met sur les pâtes selon la sauce avec laquelle les pâtes sont cuites. On sait que, avec certaines sauces, on ne met pas de parmesan. Si c’est des pâtes avec des scampis, la cuisine italienne préconise de ne pas mettre de parmesan. S’il s’agit de pâtes avec de la bolognaise, le parmesan est bienvenu. Par cette image, je veux dire que, de plus en plus, on invoque la neutralité et le droit international quand ils nous rendent service et on les oublie quand ils nous dérangent.

    Le droit international me paraît tout à fait clair dans la question du Kosovo, et la neutralité aussi. La résolution 1244 du Conseil de sécurité parle, à trois endroits, de l’intégrité du territoire serbe et dit que le Kosovo est une province serbe qui sera provisoirement administrée par la communauté internationale. La Russie n’aurait jamais accepté cette résolution si elle ne parlait pas de l’intégrité du territoire de la Serbie. Cette résolution est aujourd’hui encore en vigueur parce que seul le Conseil de sécurité peut la modifier ou l’annuler.

    Quand, en 1999, les armées sous commandement de l’OTAN ont bombardé la Serbie, sans avoir obtenu l’autorisation de l’ONU, la Suisse avait interdit le survol de son territoire par les avions de l’OTAN. C’étaient là des actions d’agression illégales. Mais, lors de cette guerre, même en Suisse, les médias et nombre de politiciens ont justifié ces bombardements en disant qu’il fallait liquider Milosevic.

    J’ai toujours été d’avis, qu’il y avait d’autres moyens de régler cette question. Car, en bombardant la Serbie, on a bombardé des civils et fait usage de munitions qui contenaient de l’uranium appauvri. Aujourd’hui, nous en connaissons les conséquences pour la santé. J’ai parlé à des cancérologues. Tous m’ont dit qu’il y a un développement anormal de tumeurs dans cette région depuis les bombardements de l’OTAN. Peu de gens osent parler de cette catastrophe. Les autorités serbes elles-mêmes n’ont pas intérêt à en parler. Cela mettrait la Serbie dans une position intenable, car cela reviendrait à devoir admettre que l’on ne peut plus consommer les produits agricoles contaminés.

    Je constate que les gouvernements ne disent pas la vérité aux citoyens, que cela n’est pas digne d’une démocratie. Peut-être bien que, dans certains cas, l’OTAN peut avoir des raisons d’intervenir. Mais ce que je déplore, ce sont les mensonges, cette absence de transparence.

    Silvia Cattori : Dans le cas de la reconnaissance du Kosovo, il y a donc bien eu violation du droit international et de la Résolution 1244 du Conseil de sécurité ?

    Dick Marty : Oui. En droit international, l’autodétermination des peuples est soumise à toute une série de conditions. Il faut notamment qu’il y ait un peuple reconnu en tant que tel. Ce qui n’est manifestement pas le cas du Kosovo. Les Nations Unies n’ont jamais reconnu auparavant un pays qui s’est détaché d’un autre contre le gré du pays dont il faisait partie.

    D’ailleurs, en Suisse, lorsque le Jura a voulu créer un nouveau canton en se détachant du canton de Berne, il y a eu toute une série de votations. Il a fallu que les gens soient d’accord, et le Canton de Berne a dû aussi voter. Toute la Suisse a dû voter.

    Les autorités serbes ont accepté de renoncer au Monténégro en 2007. Elles ont voté, au Conseil de l’Europe, pour que le Monténégro soit admis comme nouveau membre. Ce n’est donc pas vrai que les Serbes ne veulent rien lâcher ; je les ai vus, à Strasbourg, voter sans gaité de cœur, mais ils ne se sont pas opposés. Les rapports entre la Serbie et le Kosovo sont d’un autre ordre qu’avec le Monténégro qui était déjà une république auparavant.

    Mais on nous dit : « Le Kosovo, c’est différent, il a été victime d’exactions de la part de la Serbie ». Je constate que le Kosovo est administré depuis dix ans par la communauté internationale et que, après ces dix années, le Kosovo a une économie inexistante, qu’il est devenu un centre de criminalité organisée, de trafic de drogue, de trafic d’armes, de trafic d’êtres humains. Je constate qu’il n’y a pas une véritable société civile qui soit à même de faire fonctionner une véritable institution démocratique, et qu’il y a diverses minorités qui vivent protégées par des soldats internationaux.

    Pendant ces années où le Kosovo était sous protectorat international, des monastères et des églises orthodoxes ont été brulés dans l’indifférence totale des médias internationaux. Depuis 1999, 250 000 Serbes ont dû quitter le Kosovo.

    Je n’ai pas dit non à la reconnaissance de l’indépendance. J’ai dit : attendons de voir s’il s’agit vraiment d’un État indépendant qui est à même de protéger ses minorités. Pourquoi n’a-t-on pas attendu ? Je ne l’ai pas compris.

    Quelqu’un m’a dit : « La Suisse, avec tous les problèmes qu’elle a déjà avec Bruxelles, et de fiscalité avec l’Allemagne, il ne fallait pas qu’elle contredise Bruxelles, et l’Allemagne qui a été le pays qui a poussé à l’indépendance du Kosovo ». C’est l’une des explications que l’on m’a données officieusement.

    Il est clair qu’il y a, dans cette zone, une fracture entre les pays de l’OTAN et la Russie. On va créer un bastion, contre l’Iran qui n’est pas loin, mais surtout contre la Russie. Ces considérations auraient dû nous induire à plus de prudence. D’autres disent : « Il y a 10 % d’Albanais du Kosovo qui vivent en Suisse. Donc on a des intérêts particuliers ». Mais ce n’est pas un argument !

    Ce qui me choque est que l’on ait cette attitude alors que la Serbie d’aujourd’hui n’a rien à voir avec la Serbie de Milosevic. En janvier 2008, il y eu, en Serbie, des élections que tous les observateurs internationaux ont reconnu comme libres et démocratiques. Les Serbes ont démontré une maturité et un courage remarquables : ils ont choisi d’élire le candidat qui était pro-européen, cela malgré le fait que ce n’était pas un choix facile pour eux, après 10 ans de blocus de la part de l’Europe. Et que fait l’Europe, que fait le monde occidental ? Ils incitent le Kosovo à l’indépendance juste après ce vote, en poussant la Serbie dans le camp russe et en l’humiliant. Je trouve cela absurde.

    L’Union européenne, surtout, aurait pu faire une déclaration adressée à tous les pays de la région et leur dire : on vous propose à tous un contrat d’association à l’Union européenne et le Kosovo jouira d’une ample autonomie. Le président serbe, Tadic, est venu au Conseil de l’Europe et, bien que cela était difficile pour lui, il a déclaré devant les représentants de 47 pays : « Nous sommes d’accord de reconnaitre la plus ample autonomie possible au Kosovo ». On n’a pas voulu saisir cette occasion. Je ne le comprends pas.

    Ce qui est inquiétant, aujourd’hui, c’est de voir que, en dépit des possibilités énormes que l’on a de s’informer – à travers Internet par exemple – jamais nous n’avons autant risqué d’être victimes d’intoxication. Sur ce qui s’est passé dans les Balkans, il y a eu une intoxication assez remarquable. On a présenté l’Armée de libération du Kosovo (UCK) comme si c’était une organisation de vierges de bienfaisance.

    Silvia Cattori
    Journaliste suisse.

    http://www.michelcollon.info/articles.php?dateaccess=2008-03-13%2005:57:06&log=invites

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  4. Keep it simple
    MICHEL COLLON

    What exact rules govern the right to secession and, more generally, self-determination of peoples? Some tell us these rules are confusing. And if we believe the corporate media, we might think:

    In Asia, Tibetans have that right. Not Iraqis, nor Afghans.

    In the Middle East, Israelis have this right. But neither Palestinians nor Kurds.

    In Africa, the gangster Generals of the East Congo have this right. But not Western Sahara.

    In Latin America, wealthy (rightist) provinces of Bolivia and Venezuela have this right. But not Indigenous peoples of Chile, or of Mexico, etc…

    In the Balkans, Albanians of Kosovo have this right. But not Serbs of Kosovo, nor those of Bosnia.

    In Western Europe, the Flemish might have this right, but not the Northern Irish, nor the Basques.

    Complicated, indeed. How can it be simplified? Like this: Only those people who are “with us” are entitled to self-determination. Noone else.

    And as long as we’re here, let’s replace the word “democratic” by “with us” and the word “terrorist” by “against us.”

    That’s politics. Simple when you know how!

    March 26, 2008
    Translated by John Catalinotto

    ———

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,549441,00.html

    CONFUSION AND CORRUPTION IN KOSOVO
    The Slow Birth of a Nation

    By Walter Mayr

    Two months after Kosovo declared independence, thousands of foreign experts have descended on its capital to shape Europe’s youngest republic into a constitutional state — although its status is still disputed. Soon the EU will take over, and its team can expect a country ruled by corruption and organized crime.

    Protesters set fire to the replica of a judge’s robe during a protest over the acquittal of Ramush Haradinaj, a former Kosovo prime minister who had been tried for war crimes in The Hague. In other parts of Kosovo, he was celebrated.
    REUTERS

    Protesters set fire to the replica of a judge’s robe during a protest over the acquittal of Ramush Haradinaj, a former Kosovo prime minister who had been tried for war crimes in The Hague. In other parts of Kosovo, he was celebrated.
    It’s 8 p.m., and Joachim Rücker, the highest-ranking representative of the United Nations in Pristina, is heading out for a bite to eat. Past Bill Clinton Boulevard, past three mosques, Rücker’s Japanese jeep zigzags through the darkened city. His Albanian bodyguards, speaking English, constantly rattle off the vehicle’s coordinates into their radio.

    But where, exactly, is Rücker? What country is he in?

    According to international law, Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, still belongs to Serbian territory. Rücker’s boss at UN headquarters in New York, Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, has not said anything new to the contrary. Under UN Resolution 1244, adopted in 1999, Kosovo was placed under an interim UN administration, after enduring a 16-month war that claimed about 10,000 lives. The resolution makes no mention of Kosovo’s right to secede from Serbia.

    On the other hand, Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on Feb. 17. More than two dozen countries worldwide — including the United States and Germany — have recognized the tiny republic, whose population is 90 percent ethnic Albanian. There are now signs with the words “Republic of Kosovo” along the southern border and Kosovar customs officers at the Pristina airport.

    But in the north and in the Serbian enclaves south of the Ibar River, separate elections will probably take place on May 11 — for the Serbian parliament in Belgrade and for the local Serb government. Here, in the shadow of medieval monasteries, time seems to stand still. The Serbian dinar is the standard currency here, and wages, food and political directives come straight from Belgrade.

    Kosovo’s situation is complex. Two countries claim a territory that is about one and a half times the size of the US state Rhode Island (and has about the same population density). In the middle, acting as a UN referee in a diplomatic minefield, sits Joachim Rücker, 56, the former mayor of the small southwestern German city of Sindelfingen. At the request of the UN Secretary General and in response to pressure from Russia, Rücker is expected to continue behaving as if nothing had happened, as if Serbia’s national borders had remained unchanged.

    He’s returning from a reception held by the newly appointed German ambassador in Pristina. Strictly speaking — according to diplomatic protocol — Rücker had no business there. He was the supreme UN administrator in Serbia’s southwestern province, not in a new sovereign nation. But he calls Kosovo’s hermaphroditic condition “cohabitation,” and manages to find complicated language to describe the future of this torn region.

    In June, administrative duties will change hands from the UN to the European Union, which plans to send 2,200 judges, prosecutors, police officers and customs officials to Pristina. But without the approval of the Russians and the Chinese in the Security Council, the UN will hardly be able to slip quietly out of Kosovo. Instead, says Rücker, it will have to maintain its presence, and its mission, “while keeping its status neutral.” The UN will have to “reconfigure” itself and emphasize the “discontinuity” between the EU and UN mandates.

    The UN will stay in Kosovo, in other words — not shrink away and hope for a change of course in Moscow, Beijing and Belgrade — so that the skirmishes over Europe’s youngest state don’t turn into a full-blown war.

    For now, at least, life is still relatively good in Pristina. The penne arrabiata and chocolate tarts at “Il Passatore,” an Italian trattoria, are exceptional. Rücker seems pleased as he leaves the restaurant.

    Elephants at the Watering Hole

    The UN’s Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) is the largest show of strength in the history of the world body. Rücker has led it since 2006. The multinational administrators oversee everything — government, police, judiciary, customs, the economy. The goal of the now nine-year operation is to transform Yugoslavia’s former poorhouse into a home for more than two million people that deserves to be called a constitutional state.

    Europe’s newest nation, still unfinished.
    Zoom
    DER SPIEGEL

    Europe’s newest nation, still unfinished.
    The UN has the active support of the EU, NATO and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), each represented by its own substantial battalion in Kosovo, as well as several hundred non-governmental organizations. Like elephants at a watering hole, the giants of the global peacemaking trade huddle in this disputed corner of Europe and naturally step, now and then, all over each other’s toes.

    Kosovo’s foreign rulers — especially the French, Americans and Germans — are wrestling for billions in reconstruction contracts, for key positions in the new government and for influence over the Kosovar parties and clan leaders. The region is awash with intelligence agents and soldiers of fortune, idealists and professional adventurers. This international constellation could, of course, hinder the planned birth of democracy here, rather than help it.

    The UN has spent an estimated €33 billion ($53 billion) for its mission in Kosovo since 1999, when a NATO bombing campaign drove out former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic’s murderous troops. This corresponds to €1,750 ($2,800) per capita, annually — or 160 times the average yearly per capita aid for all developing countries combined.

    Nevertheless, UNMIK isn’t wanted by everyone here. The streets to UNMIK headquarters in Pristina have been known to be blocked by protest banners reading: “No access. Criminal zone.” Stickers are affixed to some traffic lights in the city, displaying “No to EUMIK” when the lights are red and “Independence” when they turn green. At the Strip Depot café, a politician and philosopher called Shkelzen Maliqi, surrounded by disciples lounging on couches, jokes: “Kosovo is a bastard country. You fathered it, and now it’s your job to care for it.”

    Officially, close to half of Kosovo’s residents live on less than €3 ($4.80) a day. Kosovo’s per capita gross national product is lower than that of North Korea or Papua New Guinea. It has one of the worst balances of trade worldwide and Europe’s highest fertility rate. Youth unemployment hovers at 75 percent.

    But as long as Albania’s young people, equipped with their bulky sunglasses and tiny mobile phones, can camp out in all of Pristina’s cafés before the third call of the muezzin, poverty alone won’t explain the local population’s growing discomfort with the international presence. Studies by scientists, intelligence services and EU panels seek to examine the deeper-seated reasons for this phenomenon.

    Kosovo analysts have one thing in common: They paint a picture of a clan-based society in which a handful of criminal leaders controls the population — and are tolerated by bureaucrats from Europe and the rest of the world, who have come here under the guise of enlightening the Kosovars.

    ‘Leading Political and Criminal Figures’

    The international community and its representatives in Kosovo bear a significant share of responsibility for the alarming proliferation of Mafia-like structures in Kosovo. As a result of their open support for leading political and criminal figures, they have harmed the credibility of international institutions in numerous ways. (From a study by the Institute for European Politics in Berlin, completed for the German military, the Bundeswehr, in 2007)

    UN special envoy Rücker wants nothing to do with “leading political and criminal figures,” at least not as long as they’ve been convicted by a court of law. But not one of the former heroes of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) guerilla force — who liberated Kosovo in their battle with Serbian troops — has so far been sentenced. Now they control Kosovo’s politics and economy.

    Ramush Haradinaj is a former KLA commander who later became prime minister of UN-administered Kosovo. His indictment in The Hague consisted of 37 charges, including murder, torture, rape and the expulsion of Serbs, Albanians and gypsies in the weeks following the end of the war in 1999. Carla Del Ponte, former chief prosecutor of the UN War Crimes Tribunal, called him a “gangster in uniform.” He returned to Kosovo this spring, after his acquittal on April 3.

    Haradinaj received a hero’s welcome, complete with pistol shots and motorcades through a sea of Albanian flags. But there was also an announcement from UNMIK referring to reservations from The Hague: “The court was under the strong impression that witnesses in this trial did not feel safe.”

    Steven Schook, Rücker’s American deputy at UNMIK’s fortress-like headquarters in Pristina, was already out of office by then. But it wasn’t for the reasons provided by local rumor — not because he loved his job too much, as a former American brigadier general claimed; not because of his supposed weakness for beautiful Kosovar women; not because he considered it useful to “get drunk with Ramush Haradinaj once a week,” as described in a German situation analysis.

    No, Steven Schook’s contract was officially “not extended” after the UN’s Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) investigated his administration and looked into (unproven) reports that the American had revealed the whereabouts of a man who had testified against Haradinaj. The man was living under a UN witness protection program.

    Even before that, though, Schook’s boss at UNMIK — Rücker — had given Haradinaj an exceptional private audience before his departure to a prison cell in The Hague. Rücker still insists this treatment was justified for a political alpha dog. “It’s a completely normal order of business for a former prime minister and party chairman to pay me a visit before embarking on a longer journey.”

    As a result of his suspended sentence, Haradinaj’s “longer journey” ended up being shorter than expected. During the trial he was even permitted to run as a candidate in the elections for the Kosovar parliament — with UNMIK’s blessing. Because of Haradinaj’s background, this attracted attention far beyond the borders of his native region.

    Wanting to be Boss

    The family clan structure in the Decani region from which Haradinaj derives his power is involved in a wide range of criminal, political and military activities that greatly influence the security situation throughout Kosovo. The group consists of about 100 members, and deals in the drug and weapons smuggling business, as well as in the illegal trade in dutiable goods. (From a 2005 report by the Bundesnachrichtendienst, Germany’s foreign intelligence agency)

    These charges weren’t brought up in The Hague. But now that Haradinaj, dressed in a suit and tie, has returned to the political arena, he can call for new elections and consider himself officially confirmed as the guiding figure of an independent Kosovo. The demand for politicians with an untarnished name has grown considerably. Yet according to a study completed last year, “mafia boss” is the most commonly cited dream profession among children in and around Pristina.

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  5. Hi “Kosovo”, I am sure there are people in Kosovo who know more words than just four letter words, and who also can spell “with”. Somehow, these people have not found their way to the comment boxes in this thread yet.

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  6. http://www.expatica.com/nl/news/dutch-news/un-prosecutors-seek-20-years-for-kosovo-ex-premier_235601.html

    UN prosecutors seek 20 years for Kosovo ex-premier

    Prosecutors in the retrial of Kosovo’s former prime minister Ramush Haradinaj sought “at least” 20 years in prison on war crimes charges Monday.

    “The least sentence that should be imposed is one of 20 years imprisonment,” prosecutor Paul Rogers told the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal, which had ordered the retrial after judges found witnesses were intimidated during Haradinaj’s original 10-month trial.

    Haradinaj, 43, the most senior Kosovo leader to stand trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, is being retried with fellow ethnic Albanian Idriz Balaj, 40, for war crimes committed during Kosovo’s 1998-99 conflict with Serbia.

    The two men were originally acquitted in April 2008 of war crimes and crimes against humanity, but tribunal appeals judges ordered the retrial after finding their acquittal was due to intimidation of witnesses.

    A new trial opened on August 18 last year, with Haradinaj and Balaj facing six counts including murder, cruel treatment and torture — committed mainly against people thought to have been collaborating with Serbs against the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).

    Haradinaj was a KLA commander at the time of the alleged atrocities, as was Balaj, who headed a feared paramilitary unit known as the “Black Eagles.”

    A third accused, Lahi Brahimaj, 42, who was sentenced to six years in jail in 2008, is being retried on four charges for his role in the fight between the independence-seeking ethnic Albanian guerrillas and forces of late Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic.

    He too should get at least 20 years, Rogers said.

    The abuses were allegedly committed at the notorious Jablanica prison camp in southwestern Kosovo in 1998, prosecutors said.

    “Those who did not support the ideals of the KLA were murdered, mistreated and tortured at Jablanica,” Rogers told the three-judge bench on Monday.

    “Those detained were tied like animals … dehumanised and humiliated,” he said, telling of how a witnessed testified of the brutal beating of three young boys, one of whom had his ear cut off by Balaj.

    “Haradinaj supported, encouraged and otherwise contributed to those crimes.”

    A former commander-turned-politician, Haradinaj has been on provisional release since May 10 this year and living in Pristina.

    He was being monitored by the European Union’s Kosovo mission EULEX since his provisional release and was not allowed to make public appearances under its terms.

    All three men pleaded not guilty when their original trial started in March 2007 — but proceedings were marred by a reluctance of some 20 witnesses in all to testify.

    Appeals judges said the trial chamber seriously erred in failing to take measures to secure the testimony of certain witnesses, “particularly in the context of the serious witness intimidation that formed the context of the trial,” and ordered the court’s first-ever partial retrial.

    The appeals judges also agreed with prosecutors that the court did not give the prosecution additional time to put two crucial witnesses on the stand to strengthen their case.

    One of them, former KLA member Shefqet Kabashi, was arrested in the Netherlands last year and sentenced to two months in jail for contempt of court for twice refusing to testify.

    The Kosovo war ended when NATO forces intervened to drive back Milosevic’s troops. Kosovo, Serbia’s southern province, unilaterally declared independence in 2008, but it has not been recognised by Belgrade.

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