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Shadowy Funds Raise Corruption Fears

by Edona Peci

More than 1.5 million euro was raised by private funds to support Kosovo’s war crimes defendants in The Hague, but they never made public exactly how the money was spent.



Fatmir Limaj and supporters in Pristina.

Fatmir Limaj and supporters in Pristina.

The Kosovo government did not pay anything directly to help the six former Kosovo Liberation Army fighters indicted for war crimes defend themselves at the Hague Tribunal, only laying out a relatively meagre total of 16,750 euro for a welcome-home celebration for some of its acquitted suspects.

But the two most prominent men who were accused by the international court, Ramush Haradinaj and Fatmir Limaj, who both went into politics and held high office after the war, received large sums from opaque private funds established to support them in The Hague.

BIRN tracked the money flow into funds established for post-war Prime Minister Haradinaj, who is currently head of the opposition Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, and for former transport minister Limaj, who is now a lawmaker with the ruling Kosovo Democratic Party.

BIRN’s calculations suggest that Haradinaj’s fund gathered more than 1,500,000 euro and Limaj’s attracted at least 212,000 euro – but the real amounts could have been even higher.

Because the funds published no accounts, it is also not possible to be certain whether all the money that was donated by the public in response to TV-advertised appeals was actually spent on the two men’s legal teams.

Public pledges for Limaj

Limaj, Isak Musliu and Haradin Bala were the first former KLA fighters to be indicted by the ICTY after the conflict ended.

In January 2003, the Tribunal charged them with participating in a joint criminal enterprise with the alleged aim of intimidating, assaulting, jailing or killing Serb civilians and perceived Albanian collaborators who refused to cooperate with or resisted the KLA.

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