Kosovo Guerrilla Leaders ‘Didn’t Directly Control Fighters’: Witness

Rrustem Mustafa, former commander of Kosovo Liberation Army's wartime Llap Operational Zone, also known by the nom de guerre Remi, told the Kosovo Specialist Chambers in The Hague this week in the trial of former Kosovo President Hashim Thaci and three co-defendants that the guerrilla force mainly functioned from the bottom up and did not have a fully-established chain of command.

"We did not reach the point of having an army that would have been led by the general staff, by politicians and civilians; we were the ones asked at all times about matters," Mustafa told the court on Friday.

"The war ended before the general staff acquired the level of a respected hierarchy needed to issue orders to the zone commanders," he claimed.

Mustafa explained that during the war, the orders from the general staff were "interpreted as suggestions from us [operational zone commanders], we believed we knew the situation on the ground better than the general staff".

The prosecution is seeking to prove that Thaci and his three co-defendants, Kadri Veseli, Rexhep Selimi, and Jakup Krasniqi, who are on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity, were responsible as senior KLA officers for crimes committed by their subordinates.

The four defendants are on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity, allegedly committed between at least March 1998 and September 1999, during and just after the war with Serbian forces.

They are accused of having individual and command responsibility for crimes that were mainly committed against prisoners held at KLA detention facilities in Kosovo and neighbouring Albania, including 102 murders. They have pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Former Kosovo President Hashim Thaci (centre) and his co...

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