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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid