Serbs frustrated, Kosovars elated as former Kosovo PM acquitted of war crimes
The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia acquitted Ramush Haradinaj of six counts of crimes involving the murder and torture of Serbs and non-Albanians in the '90s.
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The Serbian media and officials quickly condemned the ruling. A government spokesman told AFP that the ruling "legalized Mafia rule in Kosovo," while Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic slammed the acquittal as unjust and political in a statement, reports Serbian radio station B92.Skip to next paragraph
Arthur Bright is the Europe Editor at The Christian Science Monitor. He has worked for the Monitor in various capacities since 2004, including as the Online News Editor and a regular contributor to the Monitor's Terrorism & Security blog. He is also a licensed Massachusetts attorney.
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“Unfortunately, expectations that the Hague Tribunal will release Ramush Haradinaj, who was accused of murder, cruel treatment, inhuman actions against non-Albanian, Serb and Roma civilians in the camp of the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in Jablanica in 1998 and violation of law and customs of war, have come true,” reads Nikolić’s statement.
“The latest decision of the Tribunal is not based on the law and justice – the main postulates on which the international court should be based. The Tribunal was apparently founded contrary to the international law and it was founded to try the Serbian people. They want to achieve certain goals that the Serbian public is well aware of,” the president stressed.
The acquittal is the second ruling in two weeks to clear men who are seen as war criminals in Serbia. Earlier this month, two Croatian generals, Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac, had their convictions for war crimes overturned by the ICTY. The Associated Press reports that Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic called the ruling "scandalous" and "political and not legal."
The Associated Press notes that while the ruling complicates ongoing, European Union-sponsored talks between Serbia and Kosovo – Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, but Serbia still considers it a UN-governed domestic region, even as both nations seek to join the EU – Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic has said that his country is unlikely to withdraw from the negotiations.
"Continuation of dialogue and the process of integration in the European Union are in Serbia's interest," he said.