Former British Army officer Douglas Young told the war crimes and crimes against humanity trial of Hashim Thaci and three co-defendants at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers in The Hague on Wednesday and Thursday that the Kosovo Liberation Army was not organised like a standard army.
Young confirmed what was said in an OSCE report about the KLA’s structure in February 1999, which claimed that monitoring the guerrilla force was difficult due to the lack of concrete details about its structure, in comparison to the Serbian armed forces.
Young told the court on Thursday that the guerrilla force attempted to look like a structured military “to present the KLA in the best possible way to international organisations. The better the organisation, the more effective their relationships would be.”
However, in reality it did not have a modern army structure or hierarchy, he said.
Thaci, Kadri Veseli, Rexhep Selimi and Jakup Krasniqi are accused of bearing individual and command responsibility for crimes that were mainly committed against prisoners held at KLA detention facilities in Kosovo and neighbouring Albania, including 102 murders.
The defendants allegedly committed the crimes between at least March 1998 and September 1999, during and just after the war with Serbian forces. They have pleaded not guilty to all charges.
The witness served as a reservist lieutenant-colonel in the British Army and in 1998-99 he was deployed as part of the OSCE diplomatic observers’ mission in Kosovo.
Young left Kosovo in March 1999 before the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia began, which ultimately ended the war. He then returned some years later, serving with the NATO peacekeeping mission in Kosovo, KFOR from 2001 until April 2002.
On Wednesday, Young told the court that the KLA “cannot be compared, for example, to a modern army that controls its territory”.
He described KLA fighters as having a “strong national character and patriotic feelings”, and said of the guerrilla force itself: “It was a disciplined organisation, [with] people dedicated to each other and to the future.”
The trial will continue on September 25.
Source : Balkaninsight