News 20 Feb 17

Kosovo Asks Interpol to Cancel Serbian Warrants

President Hashim Thaci asked the international police agency to cancel Serbian warrants for the arrests of former Kosovo Liberation Army guerrillas on war crimes charges, calling them politically-motivated.

BIRN
Pristina

Hashim Thaci meets Interpol officials in Munich. Photo: Kosovo presidency.

Hashim Thaci on Sunday asked the secretary-general of Interpol, Juergen Stock, to cancel warrants for the detention of former Kosovo Liberation Army fighters who are wanted in Serbia over war crimes allegations.

He told Stock at a meeting in Munich that “such arrest warrants are unsustainable and politically motivated”, according to the Kosovo presidency website.

The arrest of ex-guerrilla commander and former Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj at a French airport in January on a Serbian warrant has raised political tensions between Pristina and Belgrade in recent weeks.

A French court is to decide on March 2 whether to free Haradinaj, who is now the leader of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo party, or to send him to Serbia to face trial.

Serbian news agency Tanjug has reported in the past that Belgrade has issued 100 warrants for former Kosovo Liberation Army officials suspected of war crimes.

Thaci himself is wanted by Serbia over war crimes allegations, but Belgrade officials said in 2015 that Interpol is not seeking his arrest.

“Interpol did cancel the validity of the arrest warrant for Thaci in other countries, because he is among the highest [Kosovo] Albanian officials. However, in Serbia the warrant is in place, so we could arrest him if he comes,” former Serbian war crimes prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic said at the time.

The Pristina authorities meanwhile are seeking the arrest of 57 unnamed Serbian citizens for committing war crimes during the 1990s conflict, although the warrants cannot be executed outside Kosovo’s borders.

Thaci also told Stock on Sunday that Kosovo should be allowed to join Interpol because it fulfills all the conditions for membership.

“We need Interpol, but Interpol needs Kosovo as well, for as quick as possible information,” he said.

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