Former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) member Pjetr Shala declared on Feb. 23 before the special Kosovo tribunal in The Hague that he had “never committed the acts” from the indictment, in which he is charged with war crimes against Albanians and Roma in Albania in 1999 .
“I have never committed the acts I am charged with, nor do I know about them,” Shala said in his address of the chamber at the start of the trial. He claimed that he was a fighter for the freedom of his country and people against the criminal regime of Slobodan Milosevic, and not against any civilians.
“We have never fought against civilians… I had nothing to do with what I’m charged with,” Shala said. The accused suggested that the prosecution had “slandered” him and “fabricated” the charges. While declaring that he did not support the tribunal for the crimes of KLA members in the past, the official name of which is Kosovo Specialist Chambers, Shala said he expected the trial to lead to his acquittal by the court.
Shala, 54, is accused in four counts for arbitrary detention, cruel treatment, torture and murder, committed against the detainees of the KLA, Albanians and Roma, in the metal factory in Kukes, Albania, between May 17 and June 5, 1999. The acts are qualified as a war crime linked with the internal armed conflict in Kosovo.