Sunday 20 April 2014

Albania and Kosovo urge UN inquiry

Ramush Haradinaj has twice been acquitted by the UN court of charges of murdering Serbs during Kosovo's 1998-99 war for independence

Albania and Kosovo have called for an independent investigation into former Hague Tribunal prosecutor Carla del Ponte for her "tendentious and illegal role" in the case against former Kosovo prime minister Ramush Haradinaj.

The comments came days after the Hague-based tribunal cleared Mr Haradinaj and two others of war crimes charges during a retrial.

Mr Haradinaj has twice been acquitted by the UN court of charges of murdering Serbs during Kosovo's 1998-99 war for independence.

The Albanian government said it was "shocked" by a recent statement of the tribunal prosecutors that Ms del Ponte laid the charges without enough proof.

Prime Minister Sali Berisha's office said Tirana would ask international institutions to launch an independent probe against her.

Mr Haradinaj's acquittal came at the end of the UN court's first-ever retrial, which was ordered after appeals judges branded the 2008 acquittals of Mr Haradinaj and Kosovo Liberation Army fighters Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj a "miscarriage of justice" because of widespread intimidation of prosecution witnesses.

Mr Brahimaj was convicted of torture at the first trial and that conviction was not retried, but he has served his sentence and was released with the others.

In a separate case and following the publication of a book from Ms Del Ponte, the European Union has launched another investigation into allegations that a criminal network sold the organs of civilian captives in Kosovo during the war.

A 2010 Council of Europe report alleged that Kosovo prime minister Hashim Thaci and other rebel commanders of the Kosovo Liberation Army ran detention centres on Albania's border with Kosovo, where civilian captives, including Serbs, were killed and their organs sold on the black market during Kosovo's war for independence from Serbia. Kosovo's population is predominantly ethnic Albanian.

Both Mr Thaci and Albania have denied those allegations.

Press Association

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