By Marija Ristic
Ekaterina Trendafilova, a Bulgarian lawyer and academic who served as a judge at the International Criminal Court from 2009 until 2015, was appointed on Wednesday as president of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers, the new Hague-based court that will try former Kosovo Liberation Army fighters for crimes committed during and after the 1990s war.
Trendafilova said in a statement that she felt “privileged” to have been appointed.
“I recognise the immense responsibility to ensure that the Specialist Chambers apply the best judicial practices and deliver fair and impartial justice for those brought to account, as well as the victims of the crimes allegedly committed,” she said.
“I intend to accomplish this mission independently, with determination, vigour and to the very best of my abilities. It is vital that we implement our mandate in an efficient, professional and secure manner,” she added.
Trendafilova, who has been given a four-year term in office starting in January, will be responsible for the judicial administration of the Specialist Chambers and also serve as the presiding judge on its supreme court panel. She is also the only full-time judge while others will be part of roster of judgies and invited when needed.
At the International Criminal Court, Trendafilova was presiding judge in the pre-trial division in the cases from Uganda, the Central African Republic, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Ivory Coast and Mali. She was also a member of the Appeals Chamber in two cases.
From January, the ‘host state agreement’ between the Netherlands and Kosovo, which provides the legal basis for the Specialist Chambers to conduct proceedings in the Netherlands, will also enter into force.
Senior KLA figures are expected to be indicted for alleged crimes committed during and after the war with Serbian forces, although the first indictments are still pending.
The new court will hear cases arising from the 2014 EU Special Investigative Task Force report which said that unnamed KLA officials would face indictments for a “campaign of persecution” against Serbs, Roma and Kosovo Albanians believed to be collaborators with the Belgrade regime.
The alleged crimes include killings, abductions, illegal detentions and sexual violence.
The court will have international staff, but will operate under Kosovo law.
Its first judicial activities are expected to start next year.