News 13 Jan 17

Serbia Demands Haradinaj’s Extradition from France

The Serbian government urged France to send former Kosovo Liberation Army commander and ex-PM Ramush Haradinaj to Belgrade to face war crimes charges, threatening retraliation if he isn’t extradited.

BIRN Team
BIRN
Belgrade
Marko Djuric, the head of Serbian government's Kosovo office, with justice minister Nela Kuburovic. Photo: Beta.

Marko Djuric, the head of Serbian government’s Kosovo office, told a press conference on Friday that Belgrade demands the extradition of former Kosovo Liberation Army commander Haradinaj, who was arrested in France last week on a Serbian war crimes warrant.

Djuric said that he believes that France will send Haradinaj to Serbia, but added that if that does not happen, Belgrade will respond with counter-measures.

“We are informing France that we will behave in the same way towards the Interpol warrants they have issued. And this not only goes for France, but also for Slovenia and Switzerland, which have been releasing these criminals – for political reasons, it is my deeply-held belief,” he said.

“Serbia is sending a warning that it will not accept the fake justice that allows crimes if they suit great powers,” he added.

Slovenia declined to send Haradinaj to Belgrade after arresting him in 2015, while Switzerland last year refused to send two former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army to Serbia to face trial.

According to Djuric, Haradinaj is suspected of the murders of civilians, including the killing of a two-week-old baby, torture, and the rape of a minor.

The appeals court in the French town of Colmar on Thursday released Haradinaj from jail but said he must stay in France under judicial supervision while the authorities consider whether to send him to Serbia to face war crimes charges.

He is obliged to surrender his passport, report twice a week to the French police and attend court hearings about whether to extradite him to Serbia.

Serbian President Tomislav Niklic said on Friday that Haradinaj’s release is likely to mean that the extradition request will be rejected.

“I think that the European Union has given such a directive to all member states,” Nikolic told Vecernje Novosti newspaper.

However, Milan Petrovic from the Serbian war crimes prosecution office told TV N1 on Thursday that French’s court decision was legal and legitimate, adding that he has “no doubts” that France will send Haradinaj to Serbia.

Haradinaj, who has been acquitted of war crimes twice by the Hague-based war crimes court, has called Serbia’s accusations “political”.

The Serbian war crimes prosecution office has insisted however that it has new evidence for different crimes that Haradinaj has not been charged with so far, and that the accusations are not politically motivated.

“This is not a political warrant… Because here the civilians and victims are not only of Serb nationality, but also Roma or Albanians who failed to show loyalty to the KLA under Ramush Haradinaj’s command in his zone of responsibility in Dukajin [in western Kosovo],” Petrovic said.

Haradinaj’s arrest at a French airport last week has sparked protests by Albanians both inside and outside Kosovo, calling for his release and condemning the arrest as a political act.

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