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The retrial of former Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj for war crimes begins today in The Hague.
Ramush Haradinaj, Lahi Ibrahimaj and Idriz Balaj were returned to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY, for a partial retrial after the prosecution convinced an appeal judge that it had not been given sufficient time to hear the evidence of two key witnesses.
The prosecution argued that Hardinaj and Ibrahimaj had been found not guilty in 2005 because witnesses were “threatened and blackmailed” and could not deliver the necessary testimony.
In 2008, Haradinaj and Balaj were acquitted of all charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity following a three-year trial. Brahimaj was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment for cruel treatment and torture.
The trio in the case, known as Haradinaj et al, were previously indicted on charges related to the murder, kidnap, torture and rape of Serbs, Roma and Albanians between March and September 1998.
During the conflict in Kosovo, Haradinaj was a commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, Balaj was the commander of the Black Eagles Unit within the KLA, and Brahimaj a KLA member stationed in the force’s Jabllanice headquarters in the western Gjakove municipality.
Haradinaj, 43, was indicted in 2004 while serving as Kosovo’s Prime Minister, and voluntarily surrendered to the Tribunal.
The leader of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, AAK, has received widespread political support in Kosovo.
Until July 2011, the Tribunal has indicted 161 persons, with ongoing proceedings for 35 accused and concluded proceedings for 126 accused, out of which 64 persons are sentenced.
The appellate chamber at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has ordered a partial retrial of the case of Ramush Haradinaj and two other former commanders of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), and the immediate detention of the three men.
In two high-profile war crimes trials currently ongoing in Pristina, a series of witnesses have retracted previous statements alleging abuse at Kosovo Liberation Army detention centres.