US Prosecutor Tapped to Head Up Kosovo War Crime Court

(CN) – The foreign ministry of the European Union appointed a former U.S. prosecutor on Monday to take over its unit that investigates war crimes out of Kosovo.

As the new Kosovo specialist prosecutor, Jack Smith will work out of a court in The Hague that was convened in 2015 amid pressure by the United States and Europe.

Though the court has yet to hear any cases, it investigates whether the Kosovo Liberation Army committed war crimes against ethnic Serbs during a nearly two-year war for independence that began in 1998.

A 78-day bombing campaign by NATO ended the Kosovo War but not without controversy, causing hundreds of civilian deaths, a substantial amount of whom were refugees.

Smith heads to the Kosovo court after a long career with the U.S. Department of Justice as well as two years at the International Criminal Court in the Hague, Netherlands.

In his position as investigation coordinator in the ICC Office of the Prosecutor from 2008 to 2010, Smith oversaw the investigations of foreign government officials and militia for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

Smith joined the ICC after nine years at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York and five years as an assistant district attorney in Manhattan.

After leaving the ICC, Smith spent five years as chief of the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, supervising the litigation of complex public corruption cases across the country. He then spent two years in the Middle District of Tennessee, serving as its acting U.S. attorney before departing that office in 2017.

A statement from the Justice Department notes that Smith’s distinctions include the Director’s Award from the Department of Justice, the Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service, the Federal Bar Association’s Younger Federal Attorney Award, the Eastern District Association’s Charles Rose Award and the Henry L. Stimson Medal by New York County Bar Association.

Smith got his law degree from Harvard after graduating from the State University of New York at Oneonta summa cum laude.

The last specialist prosecutor at the Kosovo court, David Schwendiman, vacated his position on March 31, 2018.

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