news 22 Nov 12

Kosovo Urges Serbia Not to Predict Haradinaj Verdict

Kosovo advises Serbia not to try prejudge the outcome of the trial of the former KLA commander, following Belgrade’s condemnation of the ICTY’s Gotovina verdict.

Edona Peci

Kosovo has urged Serbia to exercise restraint with regard to the Haradinaj trial in The Hague, saying “statements of high officials in Serbia have a tendency to impact on verdicts of the Hague Tribunal”.

The government said it was following “with special attention” the process at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY, of the former Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, commander, Ramush Haradinaj, and his comrades, Lah Brahimaj and Idriz Balaj.

“We ask the authorities in Serbia and others to be content and to not to try to influence the court’s decisions,” the government said.

The Kosovo government spoke out after Belgrade lambasted the ICTY for last Friday’s verdict on two former Croatian Army generals, acquitting Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac of war crimes, adding that it now expected an [unjust] acquittal of Haradinaj as well.

Talking about the ICTY verdict on Markac and Gotovina, the head of Serbia’s National Council for Cooperation with the ribunal, Rasim Ljajic, on Saturday said he expected “nothing good” from the Haradinaj verdict.

Haradinaj, a former Prime Minister of Kosovo, is expected in court in The Hague on November 29 to hear the verdict on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The Kosovo government, led by Hashim Thaci, said “it believes the Hague Tribunal will take a fair and unbiased decision.

“The government and people of Kosovo always trusted international justice and the just war of the Kosovo Liberation Army,” the press release read.

Haradinaj and another suspect, Idriz Balaj, were acquitted in 2008 of war crimes following a three-year trial at the ICTY.

A third suspect, Lah Brahimaj, was sentenced to six years for cruel treatment and torture.

A partial retrial of the trio started on July 2010 after the prosecution appealed, saying the court had not been given time to hear the evidence from two key witnesses.

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