Kosovo: UN war crimes court stays its decision to allow ex-premier to return to politics

14 October 2005

The United Nations court for former Yugoslavia has stayed its decision to allow former Kosovo Prime Minister and war crimes suspect Ramush Haradinaj to engage in politics and travel throughout Kosovo during his provisional release following an appeal from chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte.

Mr. Haradinaj, an ethnic Albanian who became prime minister of ethnically divided, UN-administered Kosovo after elections last October, resigned in March and surrendered to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) after being indicted on 17 counts of crimes against humanity, including murder and rape, and 20 counts of war crimes.

The ICTY indicted him for his role in the 1998-99 ethnic conflict which led the UN to take over administration of Kosovo after the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) drove out Yugoslav troops amid grave human rights abuses in fighting between ethnic Albanians and Serbs.

Mr. Haradinaj now cannot engage in politics until his defence team responds to the stay.

The charges, covering the period between March and September 1998, also include murder, rape, deportation of civilians, unlawful detention, harassment and the destruction of property.

The indictment alleges that Mr. Haradinaj as a commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in the Dukagjin area, together with two others, Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj, formed a "joint criminal enterprise" to consolidate KLA control by attacking, persecuting and forcibly removing Serb civilians and violently suppressing "any real or perceived form of collaboration with the Serbs by Albanian or Roma civilians."

While they may not have physically committed every crime for which they are charged, the indictment states, they are still considered criminally responsible for planning, instigating, ordering or aiding and abetting their commission.

 

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