Tuesday, 19 November, 2019

Kosovo PM resigns following war crimes court summons

Ramush Haradinaj right former rebel commander elected Kosovo's Prime Minister listens during the inaugural session of Kosovo's parliament in Kosovo's capital Pristina. Kosovo’s prime mini Kosovo's PM says he quits after being called to Hague war crimes court
Patty Aguilar | 20 July, 2019, 13:45

"The prime minister said he did so after the invitation he had received for an interview from the special court in The Hague". He announced that the tariffs imposed in November a year ago will remain in place.

President Hashim Thaci could nominate a prime minister in consultation with Haradinaj's ruling coalition to form a new government, but if that fails he must call early elections.

The Specialist Chamber was set up in 2015 to try ex-Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) guerrillas for alleged atrocities in the war of 1998-99 that led to independence from Serbia. "I am not accused, but (will be) questioned" by the court, said Haradinaj, visibly shaken after a government meeting.

This marks the second time Haradinaj has stepped down from the prime minister's seat as a result of accusations from The Hague.

In January 2017 he was arrested at a French airport by police acting on an worldwide arrest warrant from Serbia, which is pursuing separate charges of torture and murder of civilians in Kosovo in 1999.

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The court started questioning former Kosovo fighters this year.

He was forced to step down as PM in 2005, also because of a war-crime case against him. Haradinaj was a top ethnic Albanian rebel commander during the conflict. At the time of the war, Kosovo was a Serbian province and KLA members mostly were ethnic Albanians.

A 2011 report by the Council of Europe linked Thaci and some other leading Kosovo figures to gruesome wartime crimes against Serbs, including trade in organs harvested from prisoners of war.

RTS reported that Haradinaj, in office as PM since September 2017, has been acquitted twice by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia of war crimes charges, and that this will be his third trial.

The KLA rose up against Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic, eventually winning crucial North Atlantic Treaty Organisation air support that halted the killing and expulsion of Kosovo Albanian civilians during a brutal counter-insurgency campaign.

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