Kosovo ex-PM questioned at war crimes court

Former Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj arrives for a Kosovo tribunal, at the Hague, Netherlands. (AP Photo)
Updated 24 July 2019

Kosovo ex-PM questioned at war crimes court

  • Haradinaj was the commander of the ethnic Albanian guerrillas in the Western Kosovo region of Dukagjin, where heavy fighting and abuse of civilians occurred on both sides during the war
  • Haradinaj, 51, resigned last week as prime minister after being summoned by the court

THE HAGUE: International prosecutors questioned Kosovo’s ex-prime minister and wartime guerrilla commander Ramush Haradinaj on Wednesday in the latest in a series of war crimes proceedings against him.
Haradinaj left the hearing at the special court for Kosovo in The Hague along with Jakup Krasniqi, a spokesman for his former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), who was also questioned.
“I responded today to the special tribunal’s request, as a suspect,” Haradinaj told reporters outside the special court’s high-security buildings.
“I used my right to remain silent,” he said.
Haradinaj was the commander of the ethnic Albanian guerrillas in the Western Kosovo region of Dukagjin, where heavy fighting and abuse of civilians occurred on both sides during the war.
Observers in Kosovo say he could be held accountable for having failed to prevent crimes committed by KLA members under his command.
Haradinaj said prosecutors did not confront him with “concrete” evidence on Wednesday, as they did not have to divulge any information at this stage according to the law.
“They talked about my role during the war, but they did not give me anything concrete... We asked for explanations but did not receive them,” said the former guerrilla.
Hesaid he believed “always to have been in line with what is right.”
“We have fulfilled our legal obligation, according to the laws in force,” Krasniqi told reporters. He did not say whether he himself was questioned as a suspect or a witness.
Haradinaj, 51, resigned last week as prime minister after being summoned by the court.
Created in 2015, the tribunal investigates crimes allegedly committed by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) against Serbs, Roma and ethnic Albanian political opponents during and after the 1998-99 war.
Funded by the European Union and composed of international judges, the special court nonetheless falls under Kosovar law and is based in The Hague in order to protect witnesses.
Haradinaj has already been tried and acquitted twice for war crimes by another UN tribunal for former Yugoslavia.
“I always responded to (requirements) of national and international laws (but)... I also have my dignity,” Haradinaj told AFP in January.
The last conflict in the former Yugoslavia between the KLA and Serbian armed forces claimed more than 13,000 lives, including some 11,000 ethnic Albanians.
It ended when a Western bombing campaign forced Serbian forces to withdraw.
Two decades later Belgrade still does not recognize its former province’s independence.
Some thirty former KLA members have been summoned by the special court which has yet to file a single criminal charge.
“Freedom fighters always do what is right and just,” Haradinaj wrote on Facebook.


Minneapolis braces for more riots, arson following police killing of Afro-American George Floyd

Updated 30 May 2020

Minneapolis braces for more riots, arson following police killing of Afro-American George Floyd

CHICAGO: Minneapolis exploded into riots and arson this week after an African-American suspected of handling counterfeit money was killed on Monday during his arrest by two city police officers.

Videos on social media showed an officer placing his knee on George Floyd’s neck as he was handcuffed and being restrained on the street by the kerb. The 46-year-old said that he could not breathe, but police insisted that Floyd was “resisting arrest” and had to be forcibly restrained.

The officer who was seen kneeling on Floyd’s neck was arrested on Friday and charged with murder.

Floyd was pronounced dead at the scene and his family immediately called for an independent probe.

His family turned to civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who said the family’s first concern was to seek an autopsy independent of the police because of a lack of trust in law enforcement and to give their deceased family member a proper funeral.

“Is it two justice systems in America?” Crump said as he addressed the media. “One for black America and one for white America? We can’t have that. We have to have equal justice for the United States of America and that’s what I think the protesters are crying out for.”

Protests spread across the country and turned violent as arson destroyed property, including the police station where the police officers were assigned.

President Donald Trump denounced the rioters as “thugs” and warned that he might send in the military “to take control.” 

Minneapolis Police handed the investigation into Floyd’s death to the FBI and US Justice Department on Thursday night. Officials from the FBI and US Justice Department promised that the probe would be “robust and meticulous.”

The media’s role in the protests came sharply into focus when, early on Friday, CNN’s Omar Jimenez was arrested along with his TV crew.

CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota, who looked on as her colleague was being arrested, told viewers: “If you are just tuning in you are watching our correspondent Omar Jimenez being arrested by state police in Minnesota. We are not sure why our correspondent is being arrested.”