3 updates

Trendafilova: The prosecution has never filed an indictment against the Yellow House

Asked if this court was established because of the report of former senator Dick Marty, even though in the indictment against Thaçi and others none of the assumptions that were raised about the removal of organs and trafficking were included, the president of the Special Court, Katerina Trendafilova said that the Court of Appeal Panel has made it very clear that if the intentions of the members of Parliament were to limit the mandate of the Court, only in the findings of the Marty Report.

He said that the Prosecutor's Office has never brought charges against the Yellow House.

She added that Dick Marty himself made it very clear that this was not a true professional investigation, because according to her, Marty himself is not a lawyer and for this reason he handed it over to the Special Investigative Task Force to do a real investigation.

"But I am repeating what the Court of Appeal said is that if that was the intention of the drafters and then of the deputies, it means that the crimes are attached to Article 1," she said.

According to her, the Kosovo deputies have voted for article number one, which is: crimes related to the Council of Europe Report. Therefore, he added that the timelines are also related to the Dick Marty Report.

"Also, it must be said that this court has been empowered by the decisions of the Special Chamber of the Constitutional Court. Making exactly the same point, because we lawyers can often get very boring, but if we read the law and we have to make an interpretation that will please you today but will please someone else tomorrow. No, despite sometimes difficult situations, we must be true, we must keep the oath we gave before taking the position we have", she said.

He stated that regarding the removal of the organs, the Yellow House in Albania, everything will be clarified.

He said that people should be worried about those crimes, which will be cleared with the final verdict, "if it is said that there were no crimes of this type, but let's see the final result".

He said that the Prosecutor's Office has not brought any charges against the Yellow House and what was supposed to have happened there.

According to her, the Prosecutor's Office never came with such accusations.

"This is difficult to say, because there may be ongoing investigations by the authorities of Kosovo, by the authorities of Albania, because the Yellow House is in the territory of Albania, and I do not want to make any predetermination here. I was a prosecutor in my youth and I know that we should not get involved in the activities of other colleagues who are or are being investigated by both sides and usually that this investigation is confidential when it is done by each of us, or if is done in the future. I do not know. But, at least in the accusation so far there are no accusations against the Yellow House", she said.

Trendafilova: The special is dealing with the responsibility of individual crimes

The President of the Specialized Chambers, Ekaterina Trendafilova, has said that the Special Chamber is not targeting the Kosovo Liberation Army, but is dealing with the responsibility of individual crimes.

"We are very diligent in conveying how people in Kosovo feel about our activities. And we take this with an extraordinary responsibility, because we have to clean up everything that is not a reflection of the facts. And, as we agreed with you, we will talk about the facts. Until now, to my surprise, I was reading the media last night at the airport while I was coming, that the Specialized Chambers are targeting the Kosovo Liberation Army, the independence of the state. No, I clarified this on my first trip here, that the Court is dealing with the responsibility of individual crimes", Trendafilova told KTV's "Interaktiv".

She has said that she does not believe that even if the former superiors of the KLA are punished, the foundations of the Kosovo state would be damaged.

"I wouldn't see it that way. Because this was a war for independence that was led by so many people that was supported by the entire population of your country. But I don't want to sound like I'm predetermining the outcome. I don't know how these cases...", said Trendafilova.

Trendafilova said that everyone who commits war crimes must be held accountable. She has said that the president of Ukraine, Volodymy Zelensky, should also be punished if it is found that he has committed crimes.

"Let me tell you, if President Zelensky committed crimes, incited the commission of crimes, presented himself as the originator of the organization of crimes and attacks on the civilian population, then these are typical war crimes. Then let me give Mr. Zelensky responsibility. Why not? We don't differentiate," she said.

Trendafilova said that when she was a judge of the International Criminal Court, she dealt with cases where heads of state were tried and she was not worried at all.

Trendafilova: The special case can also give sentences of life imprisonment

Regarding the maximum possible punishment for the accused, Trendafilova said that it could be life imprisonment.

"Only for the most extreme cases of punishment, they can be life imprisonment, of course, taking into account each separate crime, there is consideration for the relevant provisions of the Criminal Code of Kosovo and the Criminal Code of the time when the crimes are suspected to have been committed and this is the guideline we took into consideration when deciding on the specs. This is what the colleagues decided in the case of Mr. Mustafa, this is also what was decided in the first case against Mr. Gucat and Haradinaj, and this is the constant practice of the judges," said Trendafilova.

Trendafilova talks about the interruption of visits for Thaçi, Veseli and Selim

The President of the Specialized Chambers in "Interaktiv" of KTV has spoken about the suspension of visits for Hashim Thaçi, Rexhep Selimi and Kadri Veseli.

She said that the Special Prosecutor's Office has learned that confidential information has been communicated to persons who do not have the right to have knowledge of the information. He said that they communicate with the witnesses.

"In fact, the judges had to make a decision and they did not make this decision as usual, they had to accept and study the case of the prosecutors, because the trial panel offered limited time to the special prosecutor, and also invited the registrar to offer the comments of and after we have thoroughly reviewed the reasoning provided by the special prosecutor and the registrar will follow the temporary measures taken with this short but clear decision, they will take the final decision, so there is nothing here that goes against the legal framework of the work of any institution and I will refer to all the protective measures that had to be taken. It was very clear and in a very concise decision, provided that, first of all, these measures taken by the trial body are not inconsistent. And there was a search that was done because there may have been some new developments in the European Court of Human Rights regarding the right to private life, Article 8 of the European Convention. Then the reasoning of this judgment, the reasoning is that with this urgent notice of the college from the Specialized Prosecution, it has become aware that confidential information has been communicated to persons who do not have the right to have knowledge of this information. And, of course, it was related to the witnesses. And, as I have said since 2017 in my first visit, even the most brilliant judgments regarding the decisions would have no value, if everyone's life and existence were compromised", said Trendafilova.

Trendafilova has said that recently two witnesses have appeared in the Special who did not want to testify. But, she says that so far there are over 99 witnesses who have appeared very committed to testifying.

"I have to say that recently and of course you as journalists are very informed, this is how a professional, an excellent professional, would do his job. Recently, I think there were two witnesses who appeared before the court, who did not want to testify, even one of them. I know this, because when I have the opportunity I follow the hearings on the screen, in my office, which are public, and he said that I would rather go to prison, but I will not testify. So this is a possibility, however these are isolated cases and I have to say that what is quite impressive is that so far we have over 99 witnesses who have appeared very committed just to tell their stories, how they will they appreciate the judges", said Trendafilova.

Trendafilova does not know how long the trial against Thaci and others will last

The Chairperson of the Specialized Chambers, Ekaterina Trendafilova, said that she does not know how long the trial will last against the former leaders of the KLA, Hashim Thaçi, Kadri Veseli, Rexhep Selimi and Jakup Krasniqi.

All four have been in custody in The Hague since November 2020.

“Well, I can't tell you when the end will be because I know how the system works. However, let me make it abundantly clear: This is an extremely voluminous case. Because each of the four accused is accused of ten counts of war crimes and six of crimes against humanity. Believe me, the judges don't care at all that this is a case that will take years and years. And the judges are very demanding in both chambers, in both bodies, the trial body one in the case of Mr. Schauer and panel two. So how long it will take I don't know. In fact, the number you refer to should be updated. In the big case so far there are 39 witnesses in person. To the witnesses in the case of Mr. Schaller is almost coming to an end", said Trendafilova on KTV's "Interaktiv".


Trendafilova: We received 347 applications for victims, only 141 were accepted

The President of the Special Court, Katerina Trendafilova, when asked why only Albanians are being tried, added that the cases are handled by the Special Prosecutor's Office.

She said that I cannot discuss these issues with anyone from the Office of the Special Prosecutor.

"Can you imagine... because let me be clear, in institutional matters, I need a registry and so does the Special Prosecutor. And, I have to give you an example. It's an institutional matter, it's a matter of being given the opportunity and I've already made arrangements as to who the judges are that will be available, because our judges are on the list. They work elsewhere. So I need to make sure that in order not to delay the hearings to see which of the judges will be available, who will not be contaminated eg. participating in a case, which in some way is related to the case I wanted to assign", she said.

According to her, in such cases the Prosecutor's Office should inform her in order not to delay the hearings and for the case to remain pending without any judicial action.

He added that he would never ask the prosecutor why he does not come with a case against a Serb, American, Bulgarian or other.

According to her, this is completely inappropriate and I cannot do such a thing.

She said that her position as president of the Special Court is temporary.

"What matters to me is that the cases brought before us will be treated with absolute independence, impartiality and justice will be served in these cases. This is an answer from a judge. I'm sorry if you wait any longer. I cannot answer as a judge considering the activities of a completely different institution, which is the Office of the Special Prosecutor, which is even divided into buildings, because we are not under the same roof.

So maybe even someone like you, based on some circumstances, can do this kind of analysis, but as a judge I can't have any other answer", she said.

She added that for her, all that matters is that everything that was decided by her colleagues, by the judges, was guided by the best professional practices and with an absolute truth to what was presented to them.

She said that they received 347 applications for victims and only 141 were accepted.

"Because we talked about the victims and this is very easy, because I want to make it clear that we received 347 applications and only 141 applications were accepted," she said.

According to her, it is not the case that anyone from an ethnic group can become a witness and we offer him the status of a participating witness.

"You remember that when we approved the rules of procedure, the Constitutional Court of the Special Court, which is completely independent from us, had to review it... And I have to say that the review was decisive, especially with regard to special investigative measures and then we had to do our work afterwards. They told us that these provisions do not meet the highest standards and we succeeded. So no one is pushing us to please someone, to do something that is not compatible with the judicial profession", she said.


Trendafilova: In the case of Mustafa and Shala, all the victims are Albanians

The President of the Special Court, Katerina Trendafilova, has reiterated that her visit to Kosovo is not aimed at improving the bad image of the Special Court.

She has said that there are no facts that speak against the authenticity of this institution, the authenticity of everything they do, the total independence, the total impartiality of all colleagues and staff working there.

"And it's my job to come and speak on their behalf as well, but more importantly, to speak to the people and reduce any tension or worry they may have about the nature of the Special Chambers and the judicial processes that we have our own money", she said.

She said that according to the Law that was approved by the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo, there are two completely different institutions, that is, the Office of the Specialized Prosecutor and the Specialized Chambers.

According to her, in no legal system, whether domestic or international, judges do not bring cases before them.

"That is not the issue. Who trusts the judge who initiated the cases before him. This is...", she said.

He added that this does not deal with the cases sent to you by the Office of the Specialized Prosecutor.

While talking about the accusations that this court is mono-ethnic, she said that "I was referring to article nine of the Law on Specialized Chambers and the Special Prosecutor's Office, because it is a very important article. As an article it addresses that anyone who has committed crimes, whether a citizen of the Republic of Kosovo or a citizen of any other country, if that person has committed war crimes, as provided in our jurisdiction, that person will be held responsible. Therefore, I am telling you that when I was reading the Law on Specialized Chambers and the Office of the Special Prosecutor, before I made the decision whether I would like to apply to become a judge in this institution, it was very important for me to make sure that the foundations in which we will operate are objective and article nine has been very important to me. Therefore, article nine has been a reference for me and I made this comment to Mr. Kelmendi, that anyone who has committed crimes against humanity or war crimes will be held responsible".

He added that it is a matter for the Prosecution as to what cases it brings and it depends on the quality of the evidence.

Trendafilova has stated that in the case against Sali Mustafa, all the victims are Albanians.

"The same thing is in the Shala case. And I still don't know if this is a coincidence, or in the so-called big case against Mr. Thaçi, Vesel, Krasniqi and Selim, those who have been given participant status are 141 and they are from different ethnicities: Albanians, Serbs, Roma and I think that some Egyptians have also applied to be witnesses", she said.


Trendafilova: Saddened that the Special Court is labeled as an unfair institution

The President of the Special Court, Ekaterina Trendafilova, has said that she is saddened that the Special Court is labeled as an unfair institution.

She said in KTV Interactive that people have the right to have their opinions, but according to her, she did not come to Kosovo to improve the image of the Court.

When asked why she canceled the visit last year, Trendafilova denied it.

He said that the people who were to come to the event together with the civil society, had decided not to come, claiming that they were scared.

"Actually, I didn't cancel the visit last year. I came here and met the Minister of Justice. I met the audience at the University of Pristina, with students, which was a great thing, and I really enjoyed talking to the young people. But, in fact, the event with the civil society was cancelled, a decision that I found difficult to understand... This was the advice of the Kosovo Police and our security. But I have to tell you that why I agreed with the decision to cancel the event is because I am known as a very stubborn woman, which means that if I believe in something that is right I never give up. But, I was told that those who had confirmed that they would come to that event decided not to come, afraid for themselves", she said.

She said that she does not know who those people are.

"Maybe they are scared. I do not know. I don't know, but why should I in any way make an issue of the sense of safety and protection of those who wanted to come and face me. Perhaps these members of civil society would address some difficult questions. That's why I accepted that we would not meet", she said.