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Experts on Ramush Haradinaj’s release: War crimes cannot be outdated

Kosovo ex-prime minister and one of the leaders of the former Kosovo Liberation Army, Ramush Haradinaj, whose extradition to Serbia was denied by the French Court in Colmar, could still be tried for war crimes, experts say.

Srđan Ilić: Former Prosecutor for war crimes Vladimir Vukcevic
Foto: Srđan Ilić / Former Prosecutor for war crimes Vladimir Vukcevic

Despite the fact that, on Thursday, the Colmar Court decided not to extradite Haradinaj to Serbia, he could still face trial because there is no statute for limitation when it comes to war crimes, Vladimir Vukcevic, former Serbian Prosecutor for war crimes, told Insajder.

“I was skeptical and at the same time optimistic when Haradinaj was arrested, given that I knew what kind of evidence we have. My opinion was that the colleagues from France would be guided by profession, and that Haradinaj would be extradited to Serbia,” said Vukcevic.

The Court in Calmar decided on Thursday that Ramush Haradinaj cannot be extradited to Serbia. Haradinaj was arrested by the French police on 4th January in Basel on the basis of Interpol notice issued on the request of Serbia. Serbia accuses Haradinaj, who was one of the leaders of Kosovo Liberation Army (OVK), of war crimes against civilians.

“Warrant for arrest cannot be outdated since there is no statute for limitation when it comes to war crimes”, said Vuckovic.

However, Ulrike Lunacek, the Vice President of the European Parliament and EP Standing Rapporteur on Kosovo, said on Thursday that the EU should pressure Serbia to revoke outdated international warrants for arrests.

Lunacek insisted that Serbia should revoke all warrants as a condition for continuing the dialog between Belgrade and Pristina on normalization of relationships.

Director of the Belgrade based Committee for Human Rights Milan Antonijevic said to Beta news agency that Serbia should consider cooperation with the newly formed Kosovo Special Court for War Crimes and reestablishing of cooperation with The Hague Tribunal.

“I do hope that the reaction of the state [Serbia] will be a constructive one, and that the authorities will take into consideration the cooperation with the Special Court in Kosovo,” Antonijevic said.

According to him, the decision of Colmar Court to free Haradinaj was also influenced by the fact that Serbia had not elected the Chief prosecutor for war crimes for over a year.

Haradinaj’s release resulted in a political reaction of Belgrade, which is to bring the Ambassador in Paris back to Belgrade for consultations.

Haradinaj was the Prime Minister of Kosovo in 2004, but he resigned after 100 days in Office because The Hague Tribunal raised charges for war crimes against him. He voluntarily reported to the Court in 2005.

The Hague Tribunal acquitted Haradinaj of all charges in 2008. In 2010, The Hague Tribunal revoked Haradinaj’s acquittal verdict over intimidation of witnesses, but he was released again in 2012.

In The Hague Tribunal’s process against Ramush Haradinaj, over thirty witnesses and members of their families were murdered or died.

Mina Milanovic

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