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ICTY witnesses in former Kosovo leader trial too fearful to testify

[JURIST] The last two witnesses for the prosecution in the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia case against former Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj [ICTY backgrounder, PDF; BBC profile] and two other members of the Kosovo Liberation Army [FAS backgrounder] failed to testify on Wednesday citing fears that the ICTY would be unable to protect them. One of the scheduled witnesses was charged with contempt of court [press release] after refusing last week to testify against the defendants, saying that he had been threatened after previously testifying in a separate trial. The other witness remains hospitalized in Canada, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Lawyers for the defendants are expected to move for a dismissal of the case for insufficient evidence, a motion rarely granted at the court.

The trial against Haradinaj and his two co-defendants, Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj [TrialWatch profiles], began in March [JURIST report] with outgoing chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte labeling Haradinaj a warlord and a mobster in uniform who committed "ugly, cruel and violent crimes." The defendants face 37 counts of war crimes, including murder, persecution, and rape [amended indictment, PDF], but Haradinaj has pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to all charges. Haradinaj was a senior commander of the KLA, the ethnic Albanian guerrilla force that opposed Slobodan Milosevic [advocacy website] during the 1998-1999 Kosovo war. AP has more.

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