Ramush Haradinaj, the former prime minister of Kosovo, has appeared before the International War Crimes tribunal this morning and pleaded not guilty to war crimes. Haradinaj surrendered to the Hague based court last week. The 35 year old was nominated prime minister last December but resigned on Wednesday to face the court.
He’s charged with alleged atrocities against ethnic Serbs during the Kosovo conflict in the late 1990s. Two of Haradinaj’s former aides also turned themselves into the tribunal last week.
Ramush Haradinaj was one of the most senior leaders in the ethnic Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army – the KLA – during the war. Prosecutors say he controlled an area in western Kosovo where he mounted a systematic campaign to drive ethnic Serbs out of the area. He faces 37 counts for crimes ranging from murder to rape. But Haradinaj is a hero for many Kosovo Albanians. A guerilla leader turned prime minister he’s seen as one of the few leaders who was able to stand up to the Serbs during the war.