French Court Refuses to Extradite Kosovo Ex-prime Minister

Geneva Matthews
April 28, 2017

The 1998-1999 war pitted ethnic Albanian guerrillas seeking independence for the southern Serbian province of Kosovo against Serbia's forces, who withdrew from the territory after an 11-week North Atlantic Treaty Organisation bombing campaign.

Parties to the case have five days to appeal.

Predominantly ethnic-Albanian Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008.

The court reasoned its decision on the grounds that Haradinaj would not receive a fair and balanced trial in Serbia, The Associated Press quotes his lawyer Rachel Lindon as saying.

Upon his release following the ruling on April 27, Haradinaj said the procedure is now closed and Serbia's extradition request has been turned down.

"He lost three and half months" of his life waiting for this decision, Lindon told the media, "but happily it's over".

The 48-year-old, who now leads the opposition Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, is accused of committing war crimes in June 1999 when he was Kosovo Liberation Army commander.

"France has now definitely aligned itself with those who discriminate against victims and treat criminals differently depending on their nationality", Drecun said, as reported by Balkan Insight.

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci said in a Facebook post that the French court's decision was "good news".

Haradinaj's arrest at a French airport after he flew in from Kosovo in January heightened tensions between Belgrade and Pristina. Unlike France and most other European countries, Serbia does not recognize the independence of its former province.

A Serbian court has charged Haradinaj with killings, torture and abductions of Serbs, ethnic Albanians and minority Roma people during and after the 1998-1999 war.

The Foreign Ministry accused Serbia of "using arrest warrants as a form of pressure on Kosovo". Officials said all evidence have been handed over to the French court.

Haradinaj was tried and acquitted of war crimes at a United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague in 2008.

Other reports by VideoGamingPros

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