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Former Kosovo Prime Minister refuses to answer questions in The Hague

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Former Kosovo Prime Minister refuses to answer questions in The Hague
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Kosovo’s Prime Minister, Ramush Haradinaj, has refused to answer questions from special prosecutors who are investigating suspected war crimes from the 1998-99 Balkans conflict.

Haradinaj resigned last week upon receiving the invitation from the special court, who have been tasked with examining additional evidence from events two decades ago.

Speaking to Euronews, Shpetim Gashi of the Kosovo Council for Inclusive Governance, said the questioning builds on Haradinaj’s earlier appearances at the International Criminal Court.

“He has had problems with international justice before. In 2005, he had to resign from the same position after being indicted by the international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia,” he said.

“The difference between his resignation in 2005 and now is that then he had an indictment by the court where is this time he only got an invitation from the specialist chambers which is in fact a Kosovo court but based outside and staffed solely by the internationals.”

Staying silent

Despite flying from Pristina to The Hague to sit with prosecutors, Haradinaj didn’t provide any answers to their questions.

According to Gashi, this shouldn’t come as a surprise.

“This has been a pattern with other invitees and former senior Kosovo Liberation Army officials. It looks like they’re advised by their legal advisors to invoke the right of silence,” he said.

Next steps

Despite resigning, the former PM is expected to remain in the political fray, openly talking about being a candidate if there are new elections. For a region used to political uncertainty, Gashi said his compatriots weren’t too shocked by recent events.

“(The resignation) was somewhat surprising but not unexpected. The specialist chambers were established in 2015 and the task force and prosecution already indicated that they had found enough evidence to file charges former KLA senior officials. In fact, what was surprising is why it took so long to send out these invitations,” he said.

“It is not standard in the Balkans for politicians to resign because of problems with justice. If that had been the standard, we would have been left with very few politicians,” he said.

A bloody war rocked the region when a Serb crackdown against Albanian separatists and civilians in the then Serbian province of Kosovo prompted NATO to intervene in 1999. Kosovo declared independence in 2008 and is recognised as as a nation state by more than 110 countries, but not by Serbia or Russia.