Friday, May 02, 2008

Kosovo: Prosecutors demand retrial of former PM

The Hague, 2 May (AKI) - Prosecutors in the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia on Friday have appealed against the sentence of Kosovo's former prime minister Ramush Haradinaj and demanded a retrial.

Haradinaj was accused of crimes against Serb, Roma (gypsies) and non-loyal ethnic Albanian civilians during an ethnic Albanian rebellion against Belgrade rule in 1998. But he was acquitted in early April due to a lack of evidence.

In the appeal signed by chief prosecutor Serge Brammertz, the prosecutors complained they were unable to present complete evidence against Haradinaj and his two accomplices Idriz Balaj and Lah Brahimaj because of alleged intimidation of witnesses.

“The appeals panel should order a retrial in which the responsibility of Ramush Haradinaj, Idriz Balaj and Lah Brahimaj would be determined,” Brammertz said in the appeal.

Reportedly many witnesses refused to appear before the court and nine died allegedly under mysterious circumstances before the trial began.

Haradinaj (photo) was a commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army in western Kosovo during the rebellion and later became prime minister.

He resigned and submitted himself to the tribunal after he was indicted in 2005. He and Balaj were acquitted, while Brahimaj was sentenced to six years in jail. The prosecutors demanded a 25-year sentence for all three indictees.

The prosecutors said that procedural errors committed by the tribunal made the verdict invalid because key evidence relevant to the case wasn’t presented.

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