PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — The heads of a court established to prosecute crimes committed during and immediately after Kosovo’s war for independence made their first visit to Pristina Thursday, to meet with government officials and local and international organizations.
The justice ministry said Judge Ekaterina Trendafilova and Fidelma Donlon, respectively the president and registrar of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers, met with Justice Minister Abelard Tahiri about their mandate and cooperation with Kosovo authorities.
Trendafilova said there is no case at the court so far as the prosecutor has not brought any charges.
She held a meeting with civil society groups to explain the creation of the Specialist Chambers, the procedures it will apply and how it will safeguard witnesses’ and defendants’ rights.
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“There will be cases against individuals and not against organizations or entities,” she added.
In a separate move, Kosovo’s Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj urged the country’s prosecutor general to do everything possible to investigate political murders during and after the war.
“We are fully aware that enlightening such criminal actions will help our society and also put justice in place,” Haradinaj said in a statement.
Kosovo Specialist Chambers could be an example of how war crimes cases will be handled in the future. The court is part of Kosovo’s legal system set up specifically to preside over trials arising from a Council of Europe report into organ trafficking allegations and other crimes.
The court is based in The Hague, Netherlands, with judges from European Union member countries, the United States and Canada. It has jurisdiction over crimes against humanity, war crimes and other crimes under Kosovo law which allegedly occurred between Jan. 1, 1998, and Dec. 31, 2000.
A 2011 Council of Europe report served as the launching pad for the Specialist Chambers. The court’s prosecutors are investigating allegations made in that report that senior members of the Kosovo Liberation Army ran detention centers where Serbs and other civilian captives were killed and their organs sold on the black market.
Kosovo lawmakers approved the court’s creation in 2015.
“The Specialist Chambers should be considered as the beacon of independence, impartiality and justice that will be never affected by any political interference,” Trendafilova said.
Some 11,000 people died and 1,660 are still missing from the 1998-1999 Kosovo war that ended after NATO intervened on behalf of the Albanian majority.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, which Belgrade has not recognized.
Associated Press writer Llazar Semini contributed from Tirana, Albania.
Follow Semini on Twitter at https://twitter.com/lsemini