While Kosovo welcomed the release of former KLA Commander Ramush Haradinaj from detention in the Hague, Serbia says that the ICTY should not have made such a decision.
Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci has welcomed the provisional release from detention of former Prime Minister Haradinaj.
Thaci also expressed his “respect” for the decision made by the ICTY, which he considers proof of unbiased international justice.
“We never doubted in international justice, but at the same time, we always believed in the just fight of the Kosovo Liberation Army, and that it will prevail based on the values of freedom, democracy, and justice for all the citizens of Kosovo,” reads a press release issued by Thaci’s office.
The former commander of the Dukagjini region of the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, Haradinaj was released provisionally on Thursday, after spending two years in the Scheveningen detention centre in The Hague.
Ramush Haradinaj, Lahi Brahimaj and Idriz Balaj were returned to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY, for a partial retrial after the prosecution convinced an appeals judge that it had not been given sufficient time to hear the evidence from two key witnesses.
In 2008, Haradinaj and Balaj were acquitted of all charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity following a three-year trial at the ICTY. Brahimaj was sentenced to six years of imprisonment for cruel treatment and torture.
Appealing the 2008 verdict, the prosecution argued that Hardinaj and Brahimaj were found not guilty because witnesses were “threatened and blackmailed” and could not deliver objective testimonies.
Haradinaj, who is the leader of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo-AAK, will stay in Pristina until June 22, before being sent back to the ICTY, when it is expected that the final verdict will be issued.
Kosovo’s Prime Minister, Hashim Thaci, said that he continues to believe that “the final verdict of the Hague Tribunal, on the charges against former Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj and his comrades, will be in accordance with our convictions, and that they will be freed.”
The Head of Serbia’s Government office for Cooperation with the ICTY, Dusan Ignjatovic, said that the ICTY should not have released Haradinaj, but added that this would not cause big problems in the region.
“We warned the ICTY that there are many flaws in Haradinaj's legal processing, especially when his previous release resulted in witnesses’ missing and he was even allowed to be involved in politics,” said Ignjatovic.
Serbian politicians, who are still in the election fever, did not comment on the issue, but Ignjatovic says that nevertheless his office will be sending its official objection to the ICTY.
He also argued that “it would be very bad if Haradinaj and his associates obtain some kind of certificate of innocence for lack of evidence and not because it has been proven they are not guilty”.