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ICTY orders former Kosovo PM to remain in custody

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] on Friday ordered [text, PDF] former Kosovo Albanian military leader Ramush Haradinaj [ICTY materials, PDF; JURIST news archive] to remain in custody while awaiting a new trial. The court determined that granting Haradinaj a provisional release would lead to increased media exposure that would "add to the already threatening atmosphere for witnesses." Though stating that Haradinaj himself was unlikely to pose a threat, the court found that the increased attention may incite his supporters to engage in efforts to intimidate witnesses. The date for the retrial has not been set [AP report.]

Haradinaj, Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj are awaiting retrials after the ICTY appeals chamber overturned their acquittals [JURIST report] in July. The appeals chamber found that the integrity of the original proceedings was compromised due to the trial chamber's "[failure] to take sufficient steps to counter the witness intimidation that permeated the trial." Last year, the appeals chamber affirmed the conviction of Bajrush Morina [JURIST report] for interfering with a witness during the trial. In May 2008, ICTY Chief Prosecutor Serge Brammertz [official profile] filed an appeal against the acquittals [JURIST report]. Brammertz asked that the case be retried before a different chamber of the tribunal, arguing that prosecution was not allowed the to present enough witnesses. Haradinaj was charged with 37 counts of war crimes, including murder, persecution and rape, but the ICTY acquitted him of all charges [JURIST reports] in April 2008 citing a lack of evidence. Haradinaj was a senior commander in the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) [GlobalSecurity backgrounder], the ethnic Albanian guerrilla force that opposed Slobodan Milosevic [JURIST news archive] during the 1998-1999 Kosovo war [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive].

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