Kosovo’s PM Haradinaj resigns after being called to Hague war crimes court

Ramush Haradinaj

Ramush Haradinaj

Kosovan Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj said on Friday that he is leaving his post after being summoned to The Hague war crimes tribunal over Kosovo's atrocities in the conflict leading up to the territory's breakaway from Serbia.

A French court refused to extradite him to Serbia to face war crimes charges there, expressing concern he would not get a fair trial. They have been frozen since November 2018 when Kosovo introduced a 100 percent trade tariffs on all products made in Serbia.

"I believe in the purity of the war of the Kosovo Liberation Army and I believe in the high moral values of the soldiers who fought for freedom", Thaci said in a statement.

Haradinaj is now to appear before the Kosovo Specialist Chamber, an EU-backed body set up in 2015 and also based in The Hague.

"Kosovo citizens will be informed in time", Thaci added.

Haradinaj called for snap elections to replace him, but Kosovo's constitution states that if the prime minister's seat is vacated, the president should appoint a new candidate "in consultation with the majority party or coalition that has won the majority in the assembly to establish the government".

Mr Haradinaj, who denies war crimes charges, has been tried and acquitted twice at the United Nations tribunal.

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He has been prosecuted for alleged war crimes and acquitted twice before. One of his own advisers was also called for questioning in The Hague, he added.

A 2011 council report reported allegations that included the trafficking of human organs from prisoners and killings of Serbs and KLA members' fellow ethnic Albanians. Haradinaj was a Kosovo Liberation Army officer in 1998-99 during the armed conflict in the territory with Serbian forces.

Mr Haradinaj served as a commander of the KLA during the war with Serbia. Thaci denied any wrongdoing.

His current term as prime minister began in September 2017. The group fought against Serbian authorities in a violent war that was only ended after North Atlantic Treaty Organisation launched a 77-day air campaign against Serbia.

Kosovo eventually made a unilateral declaration of independence in 2008 and it is recognized as a nation by the US and most of the West, but not by Serbia and allies Russian Federation and China.

Relations between Kosovo and Serbia remain tense, but the European Union has told both countries they will not be allowed to join the bloc unless they normalize relations.

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