Kosovo tribunal reduces sentences of veterans' leaders

FILE PHOTO: Kosovo rebel veterans' leaders on trial for obstruction of justice, in The Hague

THE HAGUE (Reuters) - Appeals judges at a special tribunal in The Hague on Thursday confirmed the convictions of two leaders of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) veterans' organisation for revealing names of protected witnesses but slightly reduced their sentences.

In May last year the Kosovo Specialist Chambers found that Hysni Gucati and Nasim Haradinaj, who ran the KLA veterans association, had given Kosovo media and politicians confidential court documents that included names and personal data from hundreds of witnesses involved in war crimes investigations.

The pair were initially jailed for 4.5 years but on appeal judges found not all of the charges were proven and reduced the sentence to 4 years and 3 months.

The veterans' association wields considerable influence in Kosovo, where many former KLA fighters are now in political positions and KLA veterans are celebrated as national heroes.

The Kosovo Specialist Chambers, a Kosovo court seated in the Netherlands and staffed by international judges and lawyers, was set up in 2015 to handle cases under Kosovo law against fighters of the KLA.

It is separate from a U.N. tribunal, which was also located in The Hague and tried officials from all over the former Yugoslavia for the 1990s Balkans wars, including several Serb officials and former KLA members for crimes committed in the Kosovo conflict.

(Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)