Arberi

Former KLA commander: I considered the General Staff an institution

On the third and last day of testimony before the Specialized Chambers, Ramiz Qeriqi said that when he was battalion commander, he reported to Fatmir Limaj on a weekly basis. He emphasized that at that time Limaj had told him that he was the person who dealt with Likoc, where it is claimed that for a while the General Staff of the KLA was located. When he answered the questions of the members of the judging panel, Qeriqi said that he exercised the function of the commander even without being officially appointed.

The 55th witness of the Office of the Specialized Prosecutor, Ramiz Qeriqi, said that he considered the General Staff of the KLA as an institution since he served as the commander of the Second Battalion of the 121st Brigade of Pashtriku. 

He concluded the three-day testimony with the answers to the questions of the trial body and also to the counter-questions of the prosecution and the lawyers in the case, in which the former leaders of the KLA - Hashim Thaçi, Kadri Veseli, Rexhep Selimi and Jakup Krasniqi - are being tried in The Hague for war crimes.

Judge Christoph Barthe asked him about an earlier statement when, according to him, he had said that Fatmir Limaj had informed him that he is the person who dealt with Likoci, where the General Headquarters of the KLA is claimed to have been. 

"Mr. Limaj, according to you, was he talking about an institution, that is, about the General Staff or about a specific person, like Mr. Rexhep Selimi, for example?", was the question of Judge Barthe.

"It is an institution in question, of course", answered the witness Qeriqi.

Qeriqi, who was known by the nickname "Lion", was the commander of the brigade battalion that for a while was led by Limaj. In this capacity, he said that he reported once a week to the Brigade Headquarters in Kleçka, and emphasized that Limaj, when he wanted his order to be taken more seriously, said that he was from the General Headquarters.

Prosecutor Silvia D'Ascoli presented two documents, which, according to her, were orders from Bislim Zyrap, who was chief of staff for a while.

"Now that you have seen these two orders, do they represent an example of a case where Brigade 121 received orders from the General Staff?" asked prosecutor D'Ascoli.
"Yes, according to this document, it can be seen that he did not say it himself, but he received orders... I did not believe him then, I thought he was saying it himself", answered the witness Qeriqi.

The prosecutor qualified orders of this nature as evidence that exposes the structure and military hierarchy of the KLA.

When he was questioned by the member of the judging panel, Guenawl Mettraux, Qeriqi affirmed the finding that he exercised the duty of battalion commander, even without being officially appointed.

"So, in fact, de-facto if one can use a legal term, you exercised the functions of the battalion commander even before you were appointed in writing", said Judge Mettraux.
After Qeriqi concluded the three-day testimony, a protected witness began the testimony in the Specialized Chambers of Kosovo in The Hague.