news 02 Mar 17

France Delays Extradition Ruling on Kosovo’s Haradinaj Again

A French court decided for a second time to postpone its ruling on whether to send former Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj to Serbia to face trial on war crimes charges.

Die Morina
BIRN
Pristina
Haradinaj in court on Thursday. Photo: Jean-Francois Badias/AP/Beta.

The appeals court in the French town of Colmar on Thursday decided to postpone the hearing on the extradition of Ramush Haradinaj to April 6.

This was the second time that the court has delayed its decision about whether to send the wartime guerrilla turned politician to Serbia to face trial on war crimes charges.

“The court has asked for additional information from Serbia,” Ramush Haradianj said as he left the court on Thursday, Klan Kosova reported.

Surrounded by ethnic Albanian supporters outside the court, the former Kosovo Liberation Army guerrilla commander, who now heads an opposition party, said Serbia’s case was politically motivated.

War veterans protest in parliament

Representatives of Kosovo Liberation Army veterans and war victims entered parliament in protest on Thursday after the French court postponed its decision in the Ramush Haradinaj case.

The veterans’ representatives asked parliament to review the law that enabled the establishment of the new Hague-based Special Court, which will try KLA fighters for wartime crimes, on the request of families of people who were killed during the war.

“We see all the injustice being done to the KLA’s clean war and we think that this is politically motivated,” said Xhavit Jashari, the director of the Association of the Families of Martyrs.

The parliamentary session was also halted as a protest in support of Haradinaj.

 

“I am a hostage to politics,” Haradinaj told media.

Haradinaj has twice been acquitted by the Hague-based court for the former Yugoslavia of committing war crimes during the 1998-99 Kosovo conflict.

However Serbian officials insist that they have evidence that he was involved in other war crimes for which he has not yet been prosecuted.

They say he is suspected of the murders of civilians, including the killing of a two-week-old baby, torture, and the rape of a minor.

They have also threatened to retaliate if Paris does not send him to Belgrade.

Haradinaj’s arrest at a French airport after he flew in from Kosovo last month heightened tensions between Belgrade and Pristina.

It also sparked protests by Albanians both inside and outside Kosovo, calling for his release and condemning the arrest as a political act.

The French court released Haradinaj on bail on January 12, but ordered him to remain in the country under judicial supervision while the authorities consider whether to send him to Serbia to face trial.

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