US attorney named chief prosecutor of office linked to Kosovo war crimes tribunal

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — U.S. attorney Kimberly West has been named chief prosecutor linked to a European Union-backed tribunal charged with prosecuting war crimes in Kosovo, the prosecutor’s office announced Friday.

West replaces Jack Smith, who left his post as chief prosecutor’s office in November to become a special adviser to the U.S. Department of Justice overseeing investigations into the retention of classified documents at the Florida estate of the former President Donald Trump, Mar-a-Lago, as well as aspects of an investigation into efforts to nullify the 2020 election won by Democrat Joe Biden.

“It is an honor to have been selected for this important and challenging role,” West said in a statement. “I look forward to joining the SPO and advancing its work.”

West currently works for a Boston law firm. From 2008 to 2013, she was part of the Yugoslav United Nations War Crimes Tribunal team that prosecuted former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic for crimes including genocide during the Bosnian War. Karadzic is serving a life sentence.

She is the third specialist prosecutor in the office based in The Hague, the Netherlands, following Smith and David Schwendiman, who served from 2016 to 2018. Another American lawyer, Alex Whiting, will remain acting specialist prosecutor until West takes up his new duties.

The prosecutor’s office is linked to the Kosovo Specialized Chambers, a branch of Kosovo’s justice system that was established in The Hague in part because of concerns about the safety and security of witnesses.

The court and prosecutor’s office were established after a 2011 report by the Council of Europe into alleged crimes, including by members of the Kosovo Liberation Army during the 1998-Kosovo war of independence. 1999 against Serbia.

Former Kosovo President Hashim Thaci is currently on trial in court along with other defendants charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes committed during his country’s war of independence from Serbia in 1998 -1999. Thaci and his co-defendants claim they are innocent.

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