The January 2011 Council of Europe report of Rapporteur Senator Dick Marty contains serious and sensitive allegations of war crimes and organised crime. These allegations merit to be thoroughly investigated and it is important that these allegations are clarified. The SITF will follow the evidence wherever it may lead. However, this will be a complex and multi-national investigation which will take time to complete.
The fight against organised crime of all sorts is a priority and a strict obligation in the EU's relations with Western Balkan countries, including Kosovo.
In spring 2011, the EU Rule of Law mission in Kosovo (EULEX), with the full support of all 27 EU Member States, decided to set-up a Special Investigative Task Force with the view to further the investigation into the allegations contained in the CoE report.
The set-up of the SITF is a testimony to the importance the EU pays to the proper handling of this issue.
Mr Clint Williamson took office as the Chief Prosecutor for the Task Force on 17 October 2011. Mr Williamson, a former US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues, has the necessary experience of working with these kinds of issues at the highest levels. Immediately prior to this appointment he served as a Special Expert to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, focusing primarily on the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. This tribunal is charged with prosecuting senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge and those most responsible for mass crimes committed in Cambodia during the 1970s. Mr Williamson has previously also worked as a Trial Attorney at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague. While at the ICTY, he supervised investigations and field operations in the Balkans, compiled indictments, and prosecuted cases at trial.
Ambassador Williamson was the SITF Chief Prosecutor from October 2011 until August 2014. As of 23 August 2014, Mr Kwai Hong Ip, Deputy Chief Prosecutor for the SITF since June 2012, has been the acting Chief Prosecutor. He will continue leading the ongoing investigation and the preparation of an indictment until a successor for Mr Williamson is appointed by the European Union.
SITF at a glance
The SITF, formed in September 2011, consists of international staff only. It works under the authority of the EU Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) and, in order to further reinforce the independence and confidentiality of the process, the SITF is partly based in Brussels.