A French court has ordered the release of Ramush Haradinaj. However, the former prime minister of Kosovo will have to stay in France pending a review of a Serbian request for extradition.
A French court has ordered the release of Ramush Haradinaj.
However, the former prime minister of Kosovo will have to stay in France pending a review of a Serbian extradition review.
— Balkan Insight (@BalkanInsight) January 12, 2017
The authorities had detained Haradinaj as he flew into France on January the 4th.
He was arrested at the request of Serbia, by whom he is wanted on charges of war crimes for his role in leading a guerilla insurgency in its former southern province of Kosovo.
The court turned down a request from Haradinaj’s legal team for him to be released without any conditions attached.
He must live in Strasbourg and report to the police twice a week.
Prosecuting attorney Dominique Steinmetz said Serbia’s extradition request had not reached the local prosecutor. It could take “several weeks, even several months.”
What has Kosovo said?
The arrest has further strained the already-brittle ties between Serbia and Kosovo.
Kosovo declared independence with Western backing in 2008.
It has demanded Belgrade drop its efforts to prosecute people linked to the conflict.
Kosovo has also asked the EU to press Serbia to drop the warrants against Haradinaj and others.
A joint statement w/ Ranking Member of Congress & one of staunchest supporters of #Kosovo
RepEliotEngel</a> regarding <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Haradinaj?src=hash">#Haradinaj</a> arrest. <a href="https://t.co/FqWP2uFxIz">pic.twitter.com/FqWP2uFxIz</a></p>— Hashim Thaçi (HashimThaciRKS) January 10, 2017
Angry government and opposition leaders in Pristina called for a halt to EU-mediated normalisation talks between Belgrade and its former, mainly ethnic Albanian, province.
The talks are a pre-condition for both countries to make progress towards membership of the EU.
Kosovo – People march during a protest in Pristina after former prime minister Haradinaj was arrested in France #AFP Photo by
armend_nimani</a> <a href="https://t.co/1qMbPGImYz">pic.twitter.com/1qMbPGImYz</a></p>— AFP Photo Department (AFPphoto) January 6, 2017
What has Belgrade said?
The government in Belgrade is due to hold a session on Friday to discuss the court’s decision to release Haradinaj.
— Balkan News Agency (@IBalkanNA) January 12, 2017
What they are saying
“All of this is a circus. This is an abuse of the law and what you are doing is political,” – Haradinaj told the court during the hearing.
“Haradinaj’s release, even a provisional one, is not good news, especially for the families of his victims,” – Serbia’s Minister for Labour and Social Affairs, Aleksander Vucic.
“We consider that the decision to release him from custody but not allow him to return to his homeland does not serve justice fully,” – Haradinaj’s Alliance for the Future of Kosovo Party urges the French authorities to drop all legal action against him.