News 04 Mar 17

Kosovo Protesters Urge France to Free Ex-PM Haradinaj

Thousands of people rallied in Pristina in support of former Kosovo Liberation Army commander and ex-prime minister Ramush Haradinaj, who was arrested in France on a Serbian war crimes warrant.

Die Morina
Protesters rally for Ramush Haradinaj's release. Photo: BIRN.

Several thousand people rallied in central Pristina on Saturday, calling on France to allow guerrilla turned politician Ramush Haradinaj, the leader of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo party, to be freed to return to Kosovo.

“Haradinaj is not alone and he enjoys the support of the people of Kosovo,” his brother Daut Haradinaj, who is also an MP with the same party, told the rally.

Haradinaj is wanted in Serbia on war crimes charges and was arrested when he flew in to France in January.

The protesters also demanded that Serbia cancel all of its arrest warrants for former Kosovo Liberation Army fighters.

Former US diplomat William Walker, the chief of the OSCE ceasefire verification mission to Kosovo in 1998 and 1999, also joined the rally on Saturday.

“Ramush Haradinaj is my good friend. I am here to show solidarity with him and all of you,” Walker said.

“I always believed that the legal system in France is the best in the world. However, what is happening with a Kosovo hero is a disgrace,” he added.

Haradinaj has twice been acquitted by the Hague-based UN court for the former Yugoslavia of committing war crimes during the 1998-99 Kosovo conflict.

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 appeals court in the French town of Colmar on Thursday decided to postpone the hearing on his extradition to April 6.

The 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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