news 21 Apr 17

Kosovo MP Haradinaj Faces Ethnic Hatred Lawsuit

A Kosovo NGO said it will file a criminal complaint against MP Daut Haradinaj for threatening that Serbs could be expelled from Kosovo if his brother, ex-PM Ramush Haradinaj, is extradited to Belgrade.

Sanja Sovrlic
BIRN
Mitrovica
Daut Haradinaj. Photo: Facebook.

The Centre for Peace and Tolerance NGO told BIRN that it plans to file the criminal complaint to the Basic Court in the northern Kosovo town of Mitrovica on Monday, accusing Daut Haradinaj of inciting ethnic hatred for his comments about expelling Serbs from Kosovo.

“We are expecting that the public prosecutor will act accordingly and open an investigation into Mr. Haradinaj,” Nenad Maksimovic, the director of the NGO, told BIRN.

Daut Haradinaj, an MP with the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo party, said earlier this month that there could be war if his brother Ramush Haradinaj, a former Kosovo prime minister, is extradited from France to Serbia to face trial on war crimes charges.

“If they want Kosovo ethnically cleansed of Serbs, then let them continue with this farce,” Daut Haradinaj said on April 7.

The NGO says in its planned criminal complaint that the MP contravened the criminal code by inciting hatred against Serbs in Kosovo.

“This [statement] has not only caused a lot of anxiety and fear in the entire Serb community, but also committed the criminal offence of inciting national [ethnic], racial, religious hatred, intolerance or discomfort,” the planned complaint says.

It says that Kosovo Serbs should not become the “hostage of political relations between Serbia and Kosovo”.

The Centre for Peace and Tolerance said that so far, more than 15 ethnic minority NGOs and dozens of individuals have backed its initiative, and the collection of signatures of support is ongoing.

But no Kosovo Albanian NGOs have expressed support, Maksimovic said.

“Even organisations that are dealing with human and minority rights have remained silent about a public display of hate speech by a Kosovo member of parliament,” he added.

Daut Haradinaj’s comments have also been condemned by the UN’s Kosovo mission, the EU office in Kosovo and the US embassy in Pristina.

Zahir Tanin, the special representative of the UN secretary-general and the head of the UN’s Kosovo mission UNMIK, said earlier this month that “using hate speech to threaten ethnic cleansing” was unacceptable.

“I call on all responsible leaders to condemn this statement, and on the judicial authorities to undertake the necessary investigation of this incident and take appropriate action in accordance with Kosovo law,” Tanin urged.

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci has also condemned Haradinaj’s statement.

“For Kosovo institutions and people, these threats towards other non-Albanian groups encourage hate, anger and revenge,” Thaci said earlier this month.

Ramush Haradinaj’s arrest at a French airport in January this year on an arrest warrant initiated by Serbia, which accuses him of committing war crimes during the Kosovo conflict, heightened tensions between Belgrade and Pristina.

A court in Colmar in France has repeatedly postponed its decision on Serbia’s request for his extradition.

It will hold another hearing on April 27.

Ramush Haradinaj has twice been acquitted by the Hague-based court for the former Yugoslavia of committing war crimes during the 1998-99 Kosovo conflict, most recently in 2012.

However Serbian officials insist that they have evidence that he was involved in other war crimes for which he has not yet been prosecuted.

They say he is suspected of the murders of civilians, including the killing of a two-week-old baby, torture, and the rape of a minor.

The French court released Haradinaj on bail on January 12, but ordered him to remain in the country under judicial supervision while the authorities consider whether to send him to Serbia to face trial.

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