Friday, October 07, 2011

On the death of Agim Zogaj

The death of protected witness Agim Zogaj in the process against Kosovo minister Limaj has once again highlighted that some people in Kosovo are above the law. The question is what EULEX can do to fight this culture of silence and intimidation.

One error EULEX makes is making its cases too big. They should learn the lessons the US had learned when it sent mafia boss Al Capone to jail for tax evasion. There was little doubt Al Capone was responsible for numerous murders and other crimes. But by concentrating on the one issue that could be proved without endangering numerous witnesses they avoided exactly the kind of trouble that we see in the Haradinaj and Limaj trials.

The ICTY and EULEX like to make their cases in a kind of documentary of all that went wrong in former Yugoslavia. But that isn't a suitable tactic in the case of Kosovo where witnesses are both endangered and sometimes unreliable. Instead they should just concentrate on one or two relatively easily provable incidents and condemn people for those.

11 years for tax evasion - as Al Capone got - may be a bit too tough and not achievable in Kosovo. But even a much shorter sentence would stress the principle that nobody is above the law.

Another legal tactic is that of the "criminal organization". Here the fact that a person was member of an organization is considered enough to hold him responsible for the crimes of that organization. This can be applied in human rights cases too as was recently done in the Demjanjuk case. The fact that Demjanjuk worked as a guard of a concentration camp was considered enough to hold him partially responsible for the mass murder that was committed in that camp.

Another error the EULEX makes is that it thinks it can have it both ways. That on the one hand it can prosecute Kosovo's leaders for mafiose behavior and on the other hand it can use the mafia tactics of establishing facts on the ground, violence and intimidation when it comes to Northern Kosovo. What Kosovo needs is a change of political culture, but EULEX just has adopted the mafia culture.

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