Skip to main content

International tribunal acquits former Kosovo PM in war crimes retrial

From Alexander Felton, CNN
updated 1:43 PM EST, Thu November 29, 2012
Kosovo Albanians show support for former Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj at a gathering in Pristina on January 12.
Kosovo Albanians show support for former Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj at a gathering in Pristina on January 12.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Amnesty International: "Is anybody ever going to be brought to justice?"
  • Ramush Haradinaj was indicted on charges of abusing and killing detainees
  • A trial court acquitted Haradinaj and two others in 2008
  • Prosecutors appealed, and the appeals chamber reinstated six counts against the three men

(CNN) -- For the second time, an international tribunal has acquitted a former Kosovo prime minister and two others of abusing and killing Serbs, raising fears that the Thursday ruling could further strain tense relations between the two countries.

The judges ruled there was no evidence that Ramush Haradinaj, who was a commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army before becoming prime minister, and two other former commanders murdered, tortured and unlawfully detained Serbian civilians, according to the summary judgment.

It was the second recent high-profile acquittal on appeal by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Two former Croatian generals were cleared of war crimes on November 16.

In a statement after the verdict, Amnesty International urged authorities to hold accountable those responsible for abducting and murdering members of minority communities in Kosovo.

"Today's verdict raises the question of if, as the court has established today, the three former high-ranking KLA members are not guilty, who then committed those crimes?" John Dalhuisen, director of Amnesty International's Europe and Central Asia program, said in the statement.

"Is anybody ever going to be brought to justice? These are the questions that the victims and their families ask, and will continue to ask, until they see justice," he said.

The indictment alleged that Haradinaj, and former Kosovo Liberation Army commanders Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj, were part of a joint criminal enterprise to consolidate control over the Dukagjin area of western Kosovo through the unlawful removal and mistreatment of civilians.

The charges against the former prime minister stemmed from 1998, when he was a commander in the army and Kosovo was fighting for independence from Serbia. Kosovo declared its independence in 2008, but Serbia has refused to recognize the move.

The three men were initially indicted in March 2005. Haradinaj was originally charged with 37 counts, but the trial court decided in April 2008 there was insufficient evidence to back up the charges and acquitted him, along with Balaj and Brahimaj.

Prosecutors appealed, and the appeals chamber reinstated six counts against all three men, including murder, torture, cruel treatment and unlawful detention.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:26 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
updated 7:09 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
updated 1:01 PM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
updated 10:48 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
updated 12:07 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
updated 7:15 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
updated 7:06 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
updated 7:37 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
updated 2:18 AM EST, Fri February 8, 2013
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.
ADVERTISEMENT