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The Hague, 17 December 2008
Haraqija and Morina Found Guilty of Contempt
Astrit Haraqija and Bajrush Morina were today found guilty of Contempt of the Tribunal and sentenced to five months and three months’ imprisonment respectively.
Both Haraqija and Morina, ethnic Albanians from Kosovo, were found guilty of having knowingly and wilfully interfered with the administration of justice by interfering with a witness whose identity had been ordered protected in the trial of the former Kosovo Albanian military leader Ramush Haradinaj and others.
The Prosecution alleged that in July 2007 Haraqija, at the time the Kosovo Minister for Culture, Youth and Sport, as well as a co-founder of the so-called “Defence Committee for Ramush Haradinaj”, instructed Morina to travel to the country where Witness 2 was residing and persuade him not to testify in the trial.
“…[T]he Trial Chamber found that the evidence established beyond reasonable doubt that Astrit Haraqija, knowing that Witness 2 was about to give evidence before the Tribunal, exercised his influence over Bajrush Morina, who accepted Haraqija’s authority and followed his directions.”
Morina met the witness on 10 and 11 July 2007. His trip was paid by the Ministry.
The Trial Chamber noted that, among other statements, Morina told Witness 2 that other witnesses who had testified in the Haradinaj et al. case before the Tribunal were subsequently killed. The Trial Chamber found that:
“…it was clear that Bajrush Morina's words were intended and could only be understood as a strong and unequivocal call on Witness 2 to refrain from testifying in the Haradinaj et al. case. In the Trial Chamber's view, such behaviour constituted intimidation.”
The Trial Chamber noted both mitigating and aggravating circumstances, including that Haraqija abused his high position in the structure of the government to put pressure on an employee of his ministry. The Trial Chamber also noted several mitigating circumstances for Morina, such as the pressure applied on him by Haraqija, his reluctance to carry out Haraqija’s instructions, as well as the fact that he apologised for his behaviour to Witness 2.
On 3 April 2008 Trial Chamber I acquitted Ramush Haradinaj and Idriz Balaj of all charges which alleged they were responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Kosovo between March and September 1998. The third accused, Lahi Brahimaj was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment for cruel treatment and torture of two persons at the Jablanica/Jabllanicë headquarters of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).
At the time of delivering the first instance judgement on 3 April 2008, the Trial Chamber noted “the significant difficulties encountered by the Chamber in securing testimony of a large number of witnesses” during the trial. The Haradinaj et al. case is currently pending before the Appeals Chamber.
The full text of the summary of the judgment can be found on the Tribunal’s website
Courtroom proceedings can be followed on the Tribunal’s website www.icty.org
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
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