Interviewing Carlos Castresana

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On July 28, 2013, “Justice in Kosovo” interviewed Prosecutor Carlos Castresana. Towards the end of the interview, a TV report about cooperative witnesses was broadcasted.

Castresana is a Spanish prosecutor who prosecuted officials in South America like former President of Chile Augusto Pinochet and Alfonso Portillo, former President of Argentina.

Prosecutor Castresana explained that “War crimes are usually committed in situations, locations and moments where there is not much evidence left. Usually there is lack of evidence because no one says ‘I did a massacre here.’”Therefore war crime cases depend entirely on witnesses.  

“Media should always be present in the court room. When people see that a particular person was murdered, burned or raped, they will agree with the punishment. There is no magical formula, but the key point to crime prosecution is the transparency,” said Castresana.

Catresana has prosecuted many war crimes, corruption crimes, and organized crimes in Argentina, Chiles, Mexico, and Guatemala.  The Center for Investigation, Documentation and Publication invited him to Kosovo to give a speech to Kosovo judges and prosecutors.

Castresana is also known for initiating a case against the former dictator Augusto Pinochet, who ruled Chile for eighteen years. Pinochet was arrested based on the international law of human rights after he was prosecuted for killing Chilean civilians during his dictatorship. When prosecutors asked Pinochet about murdering oppositions, he answered: “I don’t remember, but it is not true. If it happened, I do not remember.”

In addition, the prosecutor says that Kosovo should have a clear plan of where it should be after ten years and should ask for some international advice: “If you need the American marshals, ask the embassy for them and they will come. If you need the advice from an Italian organized crime prosecutor, you can ask them too,” said Castresano.

“My first impression is that people of Kosovo should understand that democracy does not only imply free elections system. Free elections are very important, they are even a prerequisite, but free elections are only a part of democracy; the other part is the rule of law, added Castresano.

Towards the end of the program, there was a report about the role of cooperative witnesses in penal procedures. Cooperative witnesses are individuals who are suspected of committing, but are still witnesses of that crime. This person can be a witness until he is sentenced in the final verdict. They are used as witnesses in order to solve and prevent criminal cases. An individual that organized two or more persons or led a particular criminal group in a crime cannot be declared cooperative witnesses.

According to the law, these individuals receive a more lenient sentence as a reward for their evidence. One of the first cases of the cooperative witnessing was Nazim Bllaca. Bllaca helped imprison eight criminals and because of this Bllaca received a more lenient sentence than the others that were involved.