News / Europe

Kosovo Celebrates War Crimes Acquittal of Former PM

Supporters of former ethnic Albanian rebel commander and former Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, await his arrival in capital Pristina, Kosovo on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012.
Supporters of former ethnic Albanian rebel commander and former Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, await his arrival in capital Pristina, Kosovo on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012.
VOA News
Kosovars are celebrating a U.N. court's acquittal of former prime minister Ramush Haradinaj and two of his associates of war crimes, while Serbia has expressed outrage at the verdict.

The Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia on Thursday cleared Haradinaj, Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj of all charges and ordered their immediate release. Cheers went up in the courtroom when the verdict was announced.

After the ruling, Haradinaj, who is considered a national hero by most ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, returned to Pristina, where he was greeted by Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and jubilant crowds.

But the verdict has enraged Serbia, which has accused the tribunal of bias against Serbs. It comes less than two weeks after the Hague-based court cleared two Croatian generals, Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac, of war crimes against Serbs during a key battle for Croatia's independence.

Prosecutors had alleged that during the fighting in Kosovo in the late 1990s, the men were part of a joint enterprise that abducted and tortured 16 civilians, and ultimately killed eight of them.

Haradinaj was a former commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army, a group prosecutors said wanted to establish control in western Kosovo by removing all Serbs, Roma and other civilians opposed to the group from the area.  

The rights group Amnesty International reiterated its call for justice for all the victims in the Kosovo war and their relatives, saying Thursday's verdict raises the question that if the three are not guilty, then who committed the crimes?

The judgment clears the way for Haradinaj to return to politics in Kosovo, where he stepped down as prime minister in 2005 after serving 100 days in office.  

The ruling could complicate talks between Kosovo and Serbia. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, and is recognized as an independent state by around 90 nations. Serbia insists that Kosovo remains a Serbian province.

The trial was the first ever partial retrial by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.  Haradinaj and Balaj were acquitted in a 2008 trial, while Brahimaj was sentenced to six years in prison.  The Hague Appeals Chamber ordered all three to be tried again, saying the first trial was plagued with witness intimidation.

You May Like

Video Snowstorm Sweeps Northeastern US

update 'This is nothing like we feared it would be,' New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says; he had warned storm could be one of worst in city history More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle With Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid