The prosecutor’s office has announced that American attorney Kimberly West will be the chief prosecutor for a European Union court pursuing war crimes in Kosovo.
West replaces Jack Smith who stepped down in November as the head of the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office to become a U.S. Justice Department Special Counsel overseeing investigations into classified documents kept at the Florida estate of former President Donald Trump, Mar-a-Lago. He also supervises aspects of an ongoing investigation into attempts to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s 2020 election win.
West stated in a press release that it was an honor to be selected for such a challenging and important role. “I look forward to working with the SPO.”
West is currently employed by a Boston-based law firm. She was a member of the United Nations Yugoslav war crime tribunal from 2008 to 2013. The team prosecuted Radovan Kardzic, the former Bosnian Serb Leader for crimes such as genocide committed during the Bosnian War. Karadzic has been sentenced to life in prison.
She is the third specialist prosecutor in the Netherlands for the office of The Hague. The previous two were David Schwendiman and Smith, who both served between 2016-2018. Alex Whiting will continue to serve as the acting specialist prosecutor in West’s absence.
The prosecutor’s office is connected to the Kosovo Specialist Chambers. This branch of the Kosovo justice system was created in The Hague partly because of concerns about the safety of witnesses and security.
The court and prosecutor’s office were established after a report in 2011 by the Council of Europe on allegations of crimes, including those committed by members of Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) during Kosovo’s 1998-1999 war for independence against Serbia.
Hashim Thaci, the former president of Kosovo, is on trial in court along with other defendants. They are charged for crimes and war crimes that occurred during Kosovo’s war to gain independence from Serbia between 1998-1999. Thaci and co-defendants claim to be innocent.