Accused KLA war criminal Ramush Haradinaj acquitted

Judges at the Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague April 3 found two former commanders of the Kosova Liberation Army (KLA), Kosova’s ex-prime minister Ramush Haradinaj and Idriz Balaj, not guilty on all charges. A third ex-KLA defendant, Lahi Brahimaj, was sentenced to six years imprisonment. The three were accused of murders, rapes, torture and persecution of Serbs and perceived collaborators during the KLA guerilla struggle in 1998. (VOA, Kosova Live, April 3)

Haradinaj arrived back in Prishtina, Kosova’s capital, to a hero’s welcome. Leading members of his party, Alliance for the Future of Kosova (AAK), as well as representatives of other Albanian parties, led the ceremony, attended by cheering crowds. (New Kosova Report, April 3) In Belgrade, newspapers excoriated Haradinaj and the verdict. “Bloodthirsty villain acquitted of charges” read the headline in the tabloid Alo. The lead editorial in the daily Blic found that after the acquittal, “Tribunal has no reason to exist.” (B92, Belgrade, April 4)

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