Belfast Telegraph

Home News World

Kosovo calls on France to release former premier Ramush Haradinaj

Kosovo has called on French authorities to release its former prime minister who has been detained for possible extradition to Serbia to face war crimes charges.

A French court ruled on Thursday that Ramush Haradinaj, detained a day earlier, should stay in custody during extradition proceedings as the court decides whether to turn him over to Serbian officials.

Kosovo's current prime minister Isa Mustafa said officials expect "the French government to take into consideration that such warrants are fully political and have no legal or juridical base".

Haradinaj, 48, a former guerrilla fighter in Kosovo's 1998-99 war for independence from Serbia, and now an opposition political leader, is accused by Belgrade of committing war crimes including kidnappings, torture and killings against Serb civilians when he was a senior rebel commander in western Kosovo.

In a message on Facebook, Haradinaj complained that France would "still respect decisions of (Slobodan) Milosevic's former regime".

Haradinaj was cleared of war crimes charges in two lengthy trials by a UN tribunal, but Serbia accuses him of committing war crimes including kidnapping, torture and killings against Serb civilians when he was a senior rebel commander in western Kosovo.

Two years ago he was detained in Slovenia at Belgrade's request, but later released.

Mr Mustafa said at his cabinet meeting that Kosovo considers Serbia's warrants "totally illegal, unfair and openly provoking tensions, conflicts".

"I have a message for Serbia's friends within Kosovo and abroad: Kosovo's road to statehood cannot be stopped by anyone," he said.

Mr Mustafa also said the government is planning to take measures if "Serbia, misusing the international law and order mechanism, continues the application of such politically unacceptable and immoral acts to Kosovo's activists and fighters for freedom".

France and most European countries recognised Kosovo's independence after it seceded from Serbia in 2008, but Belgrade has not.



From Belfast Telegraph