news 04 Jan 17

Kosovo's Haradinaj Held in France on Serbian Warrant

Political leader and former Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj was arrested in France on a Serbian warrant that alleges that he committed war crimes during the 1998-99 conflict in Kosovo.

Die Morina
Ramush Haradinaj, the leader of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo opposition party. Photo:

Former PM and Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, AAK party leader Ramush Haradinaj was detained on Wednesday by police in eastern France after flying from Pristina, on the basis of a Serbian arrest warrant that alleges he committed war crimes while he was a guerrilla commander with the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, during the war in Kosovo.

His family confirmed the arrest on Wednesday to Kosovo's public broadcaster RTK.

Avni Arifi, an official from his AAK party, wrote on Facebook that their leader was arrested in Basel - at the border between Switzerland, France and Germany - based on an international warrant issued by Serbia and in part blamed the Kosovo government.

“The detention of Haradinaj in France based on a charge of Serbia from 2004 is a final product of negotiations of the Kosovo’s Government with Serbia.

"Only these kinds of products can come out of these negotiations. This is the era of Isa [Mustafa, Prime Minister] and of Hashim [Thaci, President of Kosovo]," wrote Arifi.

“After receiving the information, the Ministry of Justice is coordinating with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Kosovo Police and the Ambassador of Kosovo in France and, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has sent a letter to Ministry of Justice in France with the request for the immediate release of Mr Haradinaj,” the Kosovo government said in one of its first reactions.

This is not the first time that the former Prime Minister and former KLA commander has been arrested based on Serbian warrant. In 2015, he was arrested in Slovenia, also on Serbian allegations that he committed war crimes during the 1998-99 war.

The Serbian war crimes prosecution was investigating Haradinaj in three cases, accusing him of the killing of at least 60 people.

Earlier, the Hague war crimes tribunal acquitted him of committing war crimes during the conflict.

The UN-backed court rejected allegations that he was part of a joint criminal enterprise to establish KLA control in western Kosovo through detention camps, and that he and others were responsible for the torture and killing of Serbs and Albanians who were believed to have collaborated with Serbs.

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