Sunday, April 27, 2008

Spiegel: "CONFUSION AND CORRUPTION IN KOSOVO"

By Walter Mayr

Excerpt:
"Ramush Haradinaj is a former KLA commander who later became prime minister of UN-administered Kosovo. His indictment in The Hague consisted of 37 charges, including murder, torture, rape and the expulsion of Serbs, Albanians and gypsies in the weeks following the end of the war in 1999. Carla Del Ponte, former chief prosecutor of the UN War Crimes Tribunal, called him a "gangster in uniform." He returned to Kosovo this spring, after his acquittal on April 3.

Haradinaj received a hero's welcome, complete with pistol shots and motorcades through a sea of Albanian flags. But there was also an announcement from UNMIK referring to reservations from The Hague: "The court was under the strong impression that witnesses in this trial did not feel safe."

Steven Schook, Rücker's American deputy at UNMIK's fortress-like headquarters in Pristina, was already out of office by then. The former American brigadier general said he left because he loved his job too much, but that wasn't the real reason. It also wasn't because of his supposed weakness for beautiful Kosovar women, or because he considered it useful to "get drunk with Ramush Haradinaj once a week," as described in a German situation analysis.

No, Steven Schook's contract was officially "not extended" after the UN's Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) investigated his administration and looked into (unproven) reports that the American had revealed the whereabouts of a man who had testified against Haradinaj. The man was living under a UN witness protection program.

Even before that, though, Schook's boss at UNMIK -- Rücker -- had given Haradinaj an exceptional private audience before his departure to a prison cell in The Hague. Rücker still insists this treatment was justified for a political alpha dog. "It's a completely normal order of business for a former prime minister and party chairman to pay me a visit before embarking on a longer journey."

As a result of his suspended sentence, Haradinaj's "longer journey" ended up being shorter than expected. During the trial he was even permitted to run as a candidate in the elections for the Kosovar parliament -- with UNMIK's blessing. Because of Haradinaj's background, this attracted attention far beyond the borders of his native region."
Read the entire story at Spiegel Online

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