News 30 Nov 12

Mixed International Reactions to Haradinaj's Acquittal

The international reaction to the Hague Tribunal acquittal of the former Kosovo PM, Ramush Haradinaj, mirrors the mixed reactions in the region.

Marija Ristic

The EU Commissioner for Enlargement, Stefan Fule, has said that the EU would not comment on Haradinaj’s acquittal, as the EU did not want to interfere in the work of the ICTY.

 “In this context it is important for our partners in the Western Balkans to continue to cooperate and work on reconciliation,” said Fule.

Following their acquittal by the Hague Tribunal acquittal on Thursday, Ramush Haradinaj and two other Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, commanders, returned to Kosovo as free men to a rapturous welcome.

Serbia, on the other hand, has expressed anger at the verdict.

Members of the international community, as well as Serbia, have also criticized the ICTY ruling, saying that the verdict would turn back the clock on reconciliation, and did not bring justice to the victims.

Carl Bildt, the Swedish foreign affairs minister and a former mediator in the Balkan conflicts, said that "these verdicts will push the region back into the past, when the countries of the region should be looking to the future."

“For the people in Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia it is important not to allow that painful past to endanger their future,” said Blidt on Thursday.

Two former employees of the Hague Tribunal, Carla Del Ponte and Florence Hartmann, also expressed their reactions.

Former Chief Prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, said that she was not surprised by the fact that Haradinaj was acquitted, but that it was hard to find evidence.

“The investigation into Haradinaj was very difficult. There was no cooperation with Kosovo and it was very difficult to collect the evidence,” Del Ponte said to the Belgrade based news agency Tanjug.

“Even when we had evidence, witnesses would change their testimonies,” she added.

Del Ponte’s work on the Haradinaj case was criticized on Thursday by Ben Emmerson, Haradinaj’s lawyer, who also demanded an apology from her.

“She must apologise today for her own, entirely personal, responsibility for the decision to issue this indictment without any reliable evidence to justify her decision,” Emmerson said.

Geoffrey Nice, a former ICTY judge, blamed the failure of cases against Haradinaj and Gotovina, on the Hague prosecution. 

He said that the Haradinaj case is “an embarrassment for the ICTY”, as several lawyers had advised Del Ponte and her colleagues that there is not enough evidence to prosecute. 

The former spokesperson of the ICTY, during Carla Del Ponte's time as chief prosecutor, Florence Hartmann, described Haradinaj’s acquittal as a “complete failure of international justice.”

“The Tribunal was defeated because they gave up looking for the truth, and nobody has been held responsible for that.”

“The international courts were set up to do things that the domestic courts could not do, and instead of exercising these powers, the ICTY became yet another provincial court,” said Hartmann.

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