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Former KLA leader Salih Mustafa refuses to testify at initial Court appearance in The Hauge

Former leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), Salih Mustafa, Salih Mustafa decided not to testify about the war crime charges against him, at his initial appearance at Kosovo’s Specialist Chambers in the Hague on Monday.

“I will not testify today, I will consult with my lawyer,” said Mustafa, who will remain in custody.

According to the rules of Kosovo’s Specialist Chambers, Mustafa must plead not guilty or guilty within a period of 30 days.

Julius Von Boné, lawyer of the former KLA leader, said that the former Chief of Intelligence in the Kosovo Security Force has not yet seen the full indictment filed against him.

The confirmed indictment charges Mustafa with arbitrary detention, cruel treatment, torture and unlawful murder. The crimes for which Mustafa is accused, according to the indictment, are suspected to have been committed during April 1999 in a detention center in the village of Zllash located in the vicinity of the Municipality of Pristina.

“There is a well-founded suspicion that Mr. Mustafa is responsible for committing these crimes,” was stated during the public hearing.

Mustafa was arrested on September 24 at his home on the outskirts of Pristina, after being indicted on suspicion of committing war crimes, including offenses such as arbitrary detention, cruel treatment, torture and unlawful murder.

Mustafa’s arrest was the first since the establishment of Kosovo’s Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office in 2015.

Meanwhile, the vice President of the Organization of KLA War Veterans, Nasim Haradinaj, is expected to appear at Court on Tuesday.

Haradinaj was arrested on September 25th in a neighborhood in Pristina on suspicions of obstruction of justice.

On September 25, the leader of the OVL of the KLA, Hysni Gucati, was arrested, also suspected of obstruction of justice.

Their arrests took place after the organization which they lead held press conferences three times in a row distributing materials that are alleged to be confidential documents of the Special Court.

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