A US attorney Jack Smith was appointed a new chief prosecutor of the Specialist Chambers and the Office of the special prosecutor in Kosovo, Pristina’s media reported on Monday.
Smith replaced David Schwendiman, who said he had been forced to leave the job in March at a critical stage of the tribunal’s work with no designated successor – largely due to inertia in the US state department.
The court, known as the Specialist Chambers, set up in 2016, has made substantial progress towards indicting several leaders of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) for atrocities against ethnic Serbs and opposition Kosovo Albanians during and just after the 1998-1999 conflict.
Senior officials in the current Kosovo government are reported to be among the suspects, and in January the ruling party made an abortive attempt to repeal the legislation underpinning the court’s existence.
The absence of war crimes charges for KLA alledged atrocities is seen as a deep injustice by most Serbs, and many Kosovo Albanians complain that a culture of impunity has been allowed to grow, entrenching organised crime and government unaccountability.
The Hague War Crimes Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia has not dealt with Kosovo Albanians’ war crimes. It is now replaced by the United Nations Mechanism for International Crimainal Tribunal.
Media reported that Smith asked for a year to get to know the procedure and cases the Specialist Chambers have dealt with so far.