News / Europe

UN Tribunal Clears Kosovo's ex-PM of War Crimes

Kosovo's former Prime Minister and former commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army Ramush Haradinaj smiles during the verdict reading in his retrial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague November 29, 2012.Kosovo's former Prime Minister and former commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army Ramush Haradinaj smiles during the verdict reading in his retrial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague November 29, 2012.
x
Kosovo's former Prime Minister and former commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army Ramush Haradinaj smiles during the verdict reading in his retrial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague November 29, 2012.
Kosovo's former Prime Minister and former commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army Ramush Haradinaj smiles during the verdict reading in his retrial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague November 29, 2012.
Selah Hennessy
A U.N. tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has cleared Kosovo's former prime minister, Ramush Haradinaj, of war crimes, following a second trial in The Hague.  

"Mr. Haradinaj, will you please stand?  The chamber finds you not guilty on all counts in the indictment.  The chamber orders you be released from the United Nations detention unit,"  Presiding judge Bakone Moloto said as he read the verdict.

Haradinaj was first acquitted by the U.N. court in 2008, but appeal judges ordered a partial retrial because of witness intimidation.  

Former guerilla fighter Haradinaj was accused of war crimes allegedly committed during the Kosovo conflict in 1998 and 1999, and was charged with murdering and torturing ethnic Serbs. 

But the judge said although the evidence showed Serbs and their supporters had been attacked, there was no evidence that Haradinaj had taken part.  Two other defendants, Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj, were also cleared of the charges.

 "This verdict, this judgment, coming after the longest and most exhausting criminal process ever undertaken in the history of the international criminal law, is a complete vindication of Mr. Haradinaj's innocence," Defense lawyer Ben Emmerson said. "It proves beyond the slightest doubt that he was a war hero and not a war criminal."
 
Haradinaj was a fighter in the Kosova Liberation Army.  He became Kosovo’s prime minister for a few months in 2005, but stepped down when charges were first brought against him. 

Emmerson said Haradinaj wants to restart his political career.

In Kosovo’s capital, Pristina, crowds watched the announcement of the verdict on a giant screen and celebrated with cheers and fireworks. 

"This is definitely a very historic decision," Besnik Tahiri, a senior official in the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, said. "International justice has confirmed that our liberation efforts were the right ones, we defended our homes, our people, and we are very happy that Mr. Haradinaj, Mr. Brahimaj and Mr. Balaj have been acquitted, and they are soon coming home."

But in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, the verdict was not welcome.  Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic said the not-guilty verdict shows the U.N. tribunal is aimed only at trying Serbian people for the Yugoslav wars in the 1990s. 

He said the decision would “annul” what progress has been made in talks between Serbia and Kosovo, which are backed by the European Union.

Milivoje Mihajlovic, a Serbian government spokesperson, said the verdict is a heavy blow to international law and justice in the case of Kosovo and a serious obstacle in the process of reconciliation.

Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008, an independence that has been recognized by about 90 nations, but which Serbia rejects. 

You May Like

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: justice from: justice
November 30, 2012 10:00 PM
kitfox, oh another of those buthurt serbians who think they are the victims, you can't get enough of them. Really, he did the same thing as milosevic? haha, i just can't take that seriously, you must realize that the KLA defended themselves and they were freedom fighters! Their purpose were not to commit ethnic cleansing but to defend them agains the oppression and mass murdering by the serbian STATE. You must wake up and realize your recent mistakes in history and stop fooling your self with your own propaganda!

by: Kitfox from: Sydney
November 29, 2012 4:11 PM
So I guess the Hague court only convics is you are Serbian. For same type of crimes as Milosevic this dude gets off scott free.
You call that fair and just?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs