Serbia officials denounce acquittal of former Kosovo PM on war crimes charges

Serbia officials denounce acquittal of former Kosovo PM on war crimes charges

[JURIST] Serbian officials Friday condemned the Thursday war crimes acquittal [judgment summary; JURIST report] of former Kosovo Prime Minister and Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) commander Ramush Haradinaj [BBC profile] by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website; JURIST news archive]. In a television interview, Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica called the ruling "truly worrisome." Serbian officials said the decision could heighten tensions in Kosovo and decrease the likelihood that fugitive war crimes suspects Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic [BBC profiles] would be caught.

Haradinaj was a senior commander of the KLA, the ethnic Albanian guerrilla force that opposed Slobodan Milosevic [JURIST news archive] during the 1998-1999 Kosovo war [BBC backgrounder]. He and two co-defendants, Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj [Trial Watch profiles], were charged [JURIST report] with 37 counts of war crimes, including murder, persecution, and rape [amended indictment, PDF]. Balaj and Haradinaj were acquitted on all charges, but Brahimaj was convicted of mistreating a detainee and ordering the mistreatment of another, and was sentenced to six years in jail. AP has more.