ICTY: NPWJ welcomes acquittal of former Kosovo Prime Minister Haradinaj

4 Apr, 2008 | Press Releases

The ICTY’s Trial Chamber I has acquitted former Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj of all charges which alleged he was responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the Decan (Decani) valley in Kosovo between March and September 1998, after judges found that prosecutors failed to prove a deliberate campaign to kill and expel Serb and other non-Albanian civilians from this part of western Kosovo.

On 4 March 2005, the ICTY had charged Haradinaj, together with two other former KLA commanders, with 17 counts of crimes against humanity and 20 counts of violations of the laws or customs of war. On 8 March, Haradinaj voluntarily turned himself in to the custody of the ICTY, to face the charges against him in court.

Former Kosovo Prime Minister of UN-administered Kosovo in 2005 and former senior commander of the now disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which fought against the Belgrade troops of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, Ramush Haradinaj was the highest ranking Kosovo Albanian to be indicted by the ICTY. His trial was one of the most high-profile held at the ICTY since that of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.
Declaration by Senator Sergio Stanzani, President of No Peace Without Justice:
“No Peace Without Justice welcomes the decision of the ICTY to acquit Ramush Haradinaj of all charges alleged against him and stresses, as we said at the time, that he should never have been charged in the first place. We regret that Kosovo should have been denied her Prime Minister during the difficult transition from an oppressed to a democratic society and, eventually, to an independent State.

“No Peace Without Justice, which investigated war crimes during the war in Kosovo, has always perceived the indictment of Haradinaj as a misguided attempt by the ICTY to prosecute all groups, Serbs, Croatian, Bosniacs, Kosovars “even-handedly”, irrespective of the scale of the crimes committed, flying in the face of historical facts.

“These charges against Ramush Haradinaj seem to have been the result of an intention to fill some kind of quota: if the same accusations were levelled against a Serbian military officer, they would not have reached anywhere near the scale of gravity of interest to the ICTY.

“Whether this was done with the hope that Belgrade would hand over Karadzic and Mladic, who unlike Haradinaj did not turn themselves in to the Hague to face the charges against them, or whether it is because of some position that mistakes impartiality with equidistance, the result has been to draw moral equivalence between victims and perpetrators.

“We are delighted that what appeared to be an attempt to rewrite history, which would have negated the true measure of responsibilities for the horrors of the Balkan wars, has now been laid to rest. We hope this judgment will make its contribution to Kosovo’s history and help the young State move forward to a future based on equality of all its citizens, irrespective of their ethnicity or political affiliation, democracy and the rule of law.”

For more information, contact Alison Smith, Coordinator of the International Criminal Justice Program, on asmith@npwj.org, phone: +32 2 548 39 12.