French court orders release of former Kosovo PM Haradinaj

Tensions between Pristina and Belgrade escalated after French police arresred Ramush Haradinaj on a warrant issued by Serbia.

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Ramush Haradinaj became prime minister of Kosovo in 2004 but stepped down after just over three months to face 37 charges of war crimes at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

A French court on Thursday ordered the release on bail of former Kosovo prime minister Ramush Haradinaj, who was arrested on January 4 at an airport by French police acting on a warrant issued by Serbia.

Tensions between Serbia and its former southern province of Kosovo, which declared independence in 2008, have escalated after Haradinaj's arrest. 

Serbia considers him a war criminal for his role in leading a guerrilla insurgency during 1998-99 Kosovo War.

To Kosovars, however, he is a hero who did much to win independence from late Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic.

The court ruling came after Haradinaj lodged an appeal at a court in the eastern town of Colmar. 

His lawyer Rachel Lindon said that his release on bail was the first stage of a fresh legal battle, which has already seen him tried and acquitted twice before for war crimes.

The 48-year-old intends now to try to overturn the arrest warrant issued by international police body Interpol at the request of Serbia and fight his extradition to Belgrade.

He must surrender his passport as part of the bail deal and will have to attend future court hearings which will examine the extradition request, the French court ruled.


TRTWorld and agencies