Thursday, April 03, 2008

Kosovo: Former premier (Haradinaj) acquitted of war crimes in The Hague

The Hague, 3 April (AKI) – Former Kosovo prime minister Ramush Haradinaj on Thursday was acquitted of war crimes by The international Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague.

Ramush Haradinaj was found not guilty of 37 charges, including murder, persecution, rape and torture against Serbs and other civilians during the Kosovo rebellion against Belgrade in 1998.

The judge said much of the evidence was inconclusive and he complained of witness intimidation.

The 38-year-old former premier and another defendant Idriz Balaj will be freed. A third indictee, Lah Brahimaj, Haradinaj’s uncle was sentenced to six years in jail.

Haradinaj was a commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in western Kosovo. He was accused of driving Serb and Roma civilians from their homes, and targeting Kosovo Albanians, suspected of collaborating with Serb forces.

Prosecutor David Re had asked for a 25-year sentence for all three defendants, arguing that Haradinaj was a KLA boss in western Kosovo and clearly responsible for the violent crimes for which he had been charged.

“There was a saying: 'God in heaven, Haradinaj on earth'," Re said when he summed up his case in January.

When Haradinaj was indicted in 2005, he resigned as prime minister and willingly took part in the trial.

But Haradinaj’s acquittal is certain to complicate Belgrade’s relations with the tribunal and hamper the arrest of the remaining four fugitives, including war time Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and his general Ratko Mladic.

Former ICTY prosecutor Carla del Ponte repeatedly complained about difficulties in securing witnesses against Haradinaj and his accomplices because of intimidation.

Several potential witnesses were killed before the trial. Del Ponte also accused United Nations administration in Kosovo for a lack of co-operation with the tribunal.

Kosovo has been under UN control since Serbian forces withdrew from the province in 1999 and former head of the UN administration Soren Jessen Petersen described Haradinaj a “dear friend”.

The country declared independence from Serbia in February and local television carried the sentence live from The Hague on Thursday.

Kosovo president Fatmir Seidiu said earlier on Thursday that he had written to the court, saying he believed in Haradinaj’s innocence and hoped the court would pass “a just verdict”.

Serbian president Boris Tadic said before the sentence Haradinaj’s acquittal would send a bad message to minority Serbs in Kosovo.

“That would be no justice and certainly wouldn’t encourage Serbs and non-Albanians to have a peaceful and safe life in Kosovo,” Tadic said.

The ICTY has indicted 161 individuals, mostly Serbs, for crimes allegedly committed in the last decade of the Balkan wars. More than fifty have been sentenced to over 700 years in prison.


Anonymous said...

I find this article quite amusing. Seeing as there is no factual basisi to what you are saying i wonder where you are getting oyur ideas from. The witness that you speak of being killed before the trial is one of the gravest untruths, something that Carla Del Ponte put into the public in her desperation to convict and innocent man. I think you'll find considering the resources that the ICTY have and hte fact that they cna take evidence from anything form written statements to heresay as the truht and they still had no evidence to convict says more then enough. I also find it suprising that you would attack one of the only kosovar albanians that has an interest in the intergration of serbs and hte promotion of their language within Kosovo. Surely that proves the influence of serbian propaganda as if you were basing your judgements on indepentdaent thought you would consider all that Haradinaj has done for Serbs in Kosovo. Instead you sound like a sheep following th epact and have not considered any of the facts. The atrocities tha occured all over the former Yugoslavia are so sad and were so violant and justice must be done. But to convict and innocent man in order for there to be equal balme put on all countries is ludicous. The fact of the matter is, there were grave violatinos of Serbian huamn rights under the hand of Kosovo albanians and the KLA but all the evidence shows that anytime ramush haradinaj heard of these instances he travelled over the battle fields, risking his own life, and the lives of everyone in the village he left behind, in order to prevent these atrocities from happening, and punishing those who had committed these crimes. How can you hold this man accountable for all the wrong done by the KLA when the proof is there that he tried to stop it, where as there is not one single bit of proof that he committed these crimes. Basically you are ignoreing the truth to justify your own biased judgment. I fail to see how that is for the greater good of Kosovo or Serbia. An innocent man has been set free and i say Thursday the 3rd April was a great day for International Justice.

Anonymous said...

Typical. Absolutely typical. The template was the Delalic case. Commander of forces running a prison camp sent to The Hague, accused of the tortures, etc, that went on there. The commander, under Alija Izetbegovic's direct command, is sent there with some people who worked at the prison. The ICTY forgets the doctrine of Command Responsibility and acquits Delalic and thus the rot stops before it can reach Izetbegovic himself. Some prison officials get convicted and spend a very short time in prison. Lesson; anti-Serb atrocities are incidental, the leadership does nothing criminal. Meanwhile, Serbs lead Joint Criminal Enterprises and their whole purpose is committing atrocities.

This Ramush verdict fits in perfectly with the lesson of the Delalic case. The ICTY with this drives another nail in its coffin. said...

If you had bothered to click on the link, you would find that the news story originally came from AKI, an Italian news agency, not me.

More than just Carla del Ponte, have complained about the inability for justice to do its job in Kosovo. Kosovo Albanians supply over 70% of the heroin to Western Europe, but "nobody knows anything about it". They run human trafficking that includes sex trafficking of women and children to Western Europe. Corruption is rampant, but when anyone tries to testify about it -- even other Albanians-- they wind up dead. And all of this, is according to UN agencies and third party NGO's, not Serbs.

What I find truly "amusing" is you trying to turn a wartime guerrilla leader into a total "a choir boy". It's a joke!

Anonymous said...

Sorry about that, I didn't read that pro-Ramush stuff in there, I have read your blog and am aware of your position on this.

By the way, I find out that they struck from the record the testimony of a witness who out of fear refused to continue his testimony. Compare that to Milan Martic's case when Milan Babic "commited suicide" before cross-examination was completed; the whole testimony remained on the record and was the lynchpin for the whole "Joint Criminal Enterprise" part of of the "judgment".

The Tribunal's primary message is to tell everyone whose wars and fighting is legitimate and whose is not. Those who obeyed Western powers' orders were legitimate, and those who disobeyed them were not, that's what the common thread here is. The only people who got it as bad from this Tribunal as anyone who participated in Serb war efforts are Croats who fought Muslims, presumably because this was said to be helping the Serbs!

As Jamie Shea said, the Western powers are "the majority financiers" of the Tribunal and its work reflects that, as he admitted that day.