Authors: Andrey Antonov, Oleksandr Yevsieiev
Keywords: hybrid (internationalized) court in Kosovo; international criminal justice; International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia; Serbia; transitional justice; war crimes
The article discusses the activities of Serbian courts and courts of the unrecognized “Republic of Kosovo” in connection with the international, particularly war crimes committed in the Autonomous Region in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The exclusively positive role played by the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in overcoming the impunity of the perpetrators of these atrocities is emphasized. The creation of appropriate judicial structures for the investigation of the core crimes within the framework of the Serbian and Kosovo judicial systems is assessed as a logical result of the “Completion Strategy” for the activities of the designated tribunal, approved by the UN Security Council. The “dualism” of the earlier unified judiciary of Serbia, which has been outlined, including in the field of overcoming the “gap of impunity,” is stated. As a result, a paradoxical situation is described when in relation with the crimes committed on the territory of Kosovo at the end of the XX century, both the official Serbian courts and the courts of the unrecognized Republic have got almost the same jurisdiction. It is concluded that the failures of the Serbian authorities in the investigation of crimes against Serbs on the territory of Kosovo are explained by the fact that they have no real opportunity to conduct investigative actions in this region. Serbian “parallel” judicial and police structures continue to operate in Kosovo either on paper or exclusively in civil and administrative proceedings on a very limited range of issues. In any way the article analyzes the practice of criminalizing international crimes, which is taking shape in both formerly hostile camps. Particular attention is paid to the special chamber for war crimes, established as part of the Belgrade District Court, which has the right to consider and resolve this category of cases. A detailed analysis is made of the trials conducted by that chamber, primarily in the cases of the “Jackals” and the Gnilyansk group, as well as the obstacles that arose. The plot of the sensational case of the “Bytyqi brothers”, which at one time attracted the attention of the world community, is summarized. A general description of the procedural infrastructure of transitional justice in Kosovo is given, the difficulties that stand in the way of interethnic reconciliation are briefly analyzed. Statistical indicators of the activity of the Kosovo judiciary are examined, these results are compared with similar indicators of the Serbian judiciary. So the authors come to some extend paradoxical conclusion that the national authorities of Serbia are more interested in prosecuting persons who have committed international crimes in Kosovo than the authorities of the Kosovo themselves.
About the authors: Andrey Antonov – Candidate of Sciences (Ph.D.) in Law, Chief, Conduct and Discipline Service, UN Mission in Kosovo, Pristina, Republic of Serbia; Oleksandr Yevsieiev – Candidate of Sciences (Ph.D.) in Law, Associate Professor, Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia.
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