On the Vetevendosje! website, http://www.vetevendosje.org/, you can find a newsletter regarding Albin Kurti’s response to the indictment. I’ve tried, in the best way I can, to compare the indictment (https://mrcheeseburger9000.wordpress.com/2007/11/20/albin-kurti-indictment/) with his written response (in italics below). I’m working in a vacuum, in the sense that all I have to compare is the indictment and Kurti’s website, so as with any legal case not yet completed, read with caution.
Regarding Count 1: Attempt to cause “general danger” refers to an intention to create a chaos of uncontrolled, direction-less threat – where everyone, but no one in particular is endangered.The indictment (e.g. on page 2) absurdly identifies the protest’s goal as criminal – but protests cannot have criminal goals, only human beings can. My speech on February 10 expresses that our goal as protesters was clear, and not at all criminal: to non-violently show political dissatisfaction with the status negotiations with Serbiaand the Ahtisaari package, which will bring Kosova misery and bloodshed. As is evident from my speech, we intended to show our political opposition by non-violently marching along the same route as on November 28: around the corner of the Assembly and back to VETËVENDOSJE!’s offices.
VETËVENDOSJE! is a non-violent movement aimed at avoiding general danger – specifically that posed by UNMIK’s undemocratic, neo-colonial rule and the damaging process of negotiations on Kosova’s status. Our main concrete goal is to arrange a referendum for the people of Kosova as an exercise of the right to self-determination. This count alleges me of criminal acts involving red paint bottles. The indictment tries to support this allegation by pointing at me nonviolently attempting to break the police cordon with my body. It also argues that paint bottles were loaded into a truck from VETËVENDOSJE!’ s offices, and that I was seen to leave that office the same day. This reasoning is not only insufficient, but also bizarre. Furthermore, the list on pages 4-5 does not in any way link me to the indictment, but tries to link the protest to the damage and injuries on February 10. I did not cause, call for or encourage any of this damage or injury. The Robert Dean report and evidence from the 10th clearly identifies the disproportionate and unnecessary police reaction as the cause of the damage, deaths and “general danger” on February 10.
According to the indictment, Kurti is not charged for his views on the status negotiations. Kurti seems to skirt the issue of the red paint bottles that were in the truck that he was giving a speech on that day to the crowd. On a previous date, November 28, 2006, during a similar demonstration, Kurti gave a speech and ordered the crowd to throw red paint bottles at the government buildings, which they did. The indictment says that damage was significant (over 10,000 euros).
This time around, it appears that the police were attempting to prevent the protesters from getting close to the buildings that previously they had thrown red paint bottles at on a prior date. It seems highly unlikely for the leader of Vetevendosje not to know that there were 351 red paint bottles in the truck he was in (he gave the last speech of the day before the crowd broke the police cordon). Couple that with his actions on November 28, 2006.
Kurti also states that he did not intend “to cause, call for or encourage any of this damage or injury.” But if Kurti yelled fire in a crowded theatre without having the intent to cause damage, etc., and damage does in fact follow, is he responsible?
Regarding Count 2: This count claims that the official persons were protecting institutional property on the 10th, but this is incorrect. The police cordon was not placed in front of the government building, but in the middle of the street. The official persons were put there to obstruct our peaceful demonstration and “prevent protesters from proceeding further” (page 2), along our planned route – that is, around the Assembly’s corner and back to VETËVENDOSJE!’s offices. We did not attempt to reach the government building, but to nonviolently to break the cordon in order to continue our peaceful march.
According to the indictment, the crux of the case appears to be the red paint bottles. Again, Kurti appears to skirt the issue. Was Kurti and his protesters just going to follow the same route as they did on November 28, 2006? Kurti does not mention anything about what happened on that particular day (red paint bottles thrown at buildings after he instructed the crowd to do so), which seems to be relevant in showing what the intent of Kurti and his protesters were on the day in question (February 10, 2007). The next question, which will likely be dealt with at the trial, is whether the act of throwing red paint at buildings is protected by free speech?
Regarding Count 3: The indictment admits that the end of my speech was inaudible – but still uses the prosecutor’s incorrect interpretation of my words to argue for the charges. I ended my speech with the same phrase I have ended many other speeches: “let’s continue towards self-determination and until self-determination” – after asking the police to open the road for us to continue along the November 28 route, “taking a turn” around the corner of the Assembly and back to our offices. Nothing in my speech posed any serious threat or called for using force, as this count claims. Besides, the official decisions and measures on February 10 were not lawful. They led to UNMIK police killing two peaceful protesters. The official persons’ attempt to “prevent protesters from proceeding further” was unlawful in that it violated our right to peaceful assembly enshrined in Art 21 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights and Art 11 of the European Convention of Human Rights, as confirmed by the European Courtin the case Oya Ataman v. Turkey.
I also object to this indictment for the following reasons: The indictment allows the prosecutor to use evidence not listed in the indictment. This is unacceptable. If the prosecutor wishes to use additional evidence, a new indictment must be made, and I must be given access to the new evidence in advance of its use. The indictment states that the police issued warnings to the crowd, but also admits that these were difficult to hear. This is because no such warning was issued, as supported by innumerable witnesses. Absurdly, the indictment consistently refers to the November 28 protest, an event I have not been tried for and may very well be proven innocent for.
Again, the issue appears to be whether the police can prevent free speech and association when it seems clear that the intent of Kurti and his protestors were to throw paint at buildings like they did on November 28, 2006. Although Kurti has not yet gone to trial for the November 28, 2006 incident, the most basic rules of evidence allow the prosecution to use uncharged crimes against a person to show intent, motive, or for background, so long as the fact-finder does not use it for propensity purposes. Of course, Kosovo does not have juries (it uses a civil system), so it seems reasonable that the judge will use it only for its proper purpose.
That is just my two cents. I don’t have access at all to any of the evidence. All I have seen is a copy of the indictment, so obviously things can change at the trial.