Kosovo PM resigns to face war crimes court


The prime minister of Kosovo, Ramush Haradinaj, resigned on July 19 after being called in for questioning by a war crimes court in The Hauge. The court is investigating ex-members of the Kosovo Liberation Army for their actions during the war from 1998-9 that led to Kosovo’s independence from Serbia. Haradinaj was a guerrilla commander in that war. Haradinaj stated, “The honor of the Prime Minister and the State must be preserved, and I will never stain it. In the Hague I will go as Ramush Haradinaj and will face the defamation, as required by the honor of the Albanian fighter.”

Kosovo and Serbia have been at odds since November 2018 when Kosovo imposed a 100% tariff on goods made in Serbia. This move will cause further delays in normalization of relations between the two countries. Both Serbia and Kosovo have been told that they will not be able to join the EU until they normalize relations.

In his resignation speech, Hardinaj defended the tariff, saying, “As Prime Minister of the Government of Kosovo I strongly believe that the price for recognition is our market, and for that the 100% tariff should be the price of recognition.”

Haradinaj previously resigned as prime minister in 2005 when he was indicted by the UN War Crimes Tribunal for former Yugoslavia; he was acquitted twice by that court.

From Jurist, July 23. Used with permission.

Note: Ramush Haradinaj has been ordered to appear before the Kosovo Specialist Chambers. Although technically a body of the Kosovo government, it is based at The Hague and made up of foreign prosecutors and judges to adjudicate crimes from the 1998-9 war. This unusual arrangement points to the limited sovereignty of ostensibly independent Kosovo.

Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008, and is now recognized by 113 countries around the world, including the US. (Be In Kosovo) Among those not recognizing Kosovo¬†are, of course, Serbia and its patron Russia. The failure to win general recognition has prevented Kosovo from taking a UN seat, relegating it to the position of what some have called the world’s “phantom republics.”

The Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, overseen by the UN, officially closed in 2017.

Photo of Kosova Liberation Army via IBNA

  1. Kosovo president indicted for war crimes

    Hashim Thaci, the president of Kosovo, was¬†indicted¬†June 24 by the Specialist Prosecutor‚Äôs Office of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers for crimes against humanity committed during the 1998-1999 war. (Jurist) The indictment comes as¬†Thaci was due to travel to Washington DC for planned talks with Serbia’s leadership at the White House. The trip has now been cancelled. (BBC News)

  2. Kosovo Special Prosecutor makes first arrest

    The Kosovo Specialist Chambers announced the arrest and transfer to The Hague of accused war criminal Salih Mustafa on Sept. 24. Mustafa is the first person arrested and third to be indicted by the office.

    Established in 2015, the chambers and the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office are charged with investigating and trying people accused of committing war crimes during the Kosova conflict. The office¬†notified¬†the chambers of their intent to initiate proceedings in February 2020. The chambers began reviewing indictments shortly thereafter.

    A former commander in the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), Mustafa has been indicted on charges of murder, torture, arbitrary detention and cruel treatment. After the war, he served in the intelligence branch of the Kosovo Security Force and most recently in the civil staff office in the defense ministry.

    While Mustafa is the chambers’ first arrest, he is not their first indictment. Kosovo President Hashim Thaci, a former leader of the KLA, was indicted for alleged involvement with nearly 100 murders. Thaci has not been arrested as the pretrial judge has yet to decide whether to proceed with the case. (Jurist)

  3. Ex-KLA unit commander guilty of war crimes

    Trial Panel I of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers on Dec. 16 announced its judgement in Specialist Prosecutor v. Salih Mustafa, finding defendant Mustafa guilty of four counts of war crimes, including arbitrary detention, cruel treatment, torture and murder. The court sentenced Mustafa, a past commander of the guerrilla unit of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), to serve 26 years in prison. The trial called 28 witnesses during its course, including eight victims. (Jurist)