The Hague-based Specialist Prosecutor’s Office (SPO) announced that it has completed its investigation in the case against former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) commander Salih Mustafa.
During Friday’s status conference where the progress of the case was discussed before the pre-trial judge, the prosecutor said they are ready for the trial against Mustafa to begin.
Mustafa’s lawyer Julius von Boné said they need more time to prepare the defense, with a planned visit to Kosovo on April 5.
Prosecution and Mustafa’s defense previously clashed over the start of trial.
Von Boné said that while the prosecution had years to prepare the case, the defense is being under “lot of pressure in order to file something quickly”.
Salih Mustafa was Commander of a BIA guerrilla unit, which operated within the Llap Operational Zone of the KLA. He is the first Kosovo citizen to be before the Specialist Chambers with a confirmed indictment. His was the first arrested by The Hague-based court in late September.
The indictment against Mustafa was confirmed on 12 June 2020, charging him on the basis of individual criminal responsibility and superior criminal responsibility with crimes committed by certain KLA members against persons detained at the Zllash detention compound.
He is charged with arbitrary detention, cruel treatment, torture and murder. He pleaded not guilty on each count.
The Kosovo Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office were established in August 2015, by the Kosovo Parliament to investigate crimes allegedly committed during and just after the war 1998- 2000.
The Chambers are part of Kosovo’s judicial system but staffed by internationals and located in The Hague.
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