Paris, January 5: Ramush Haradinaj, a former Prime Minister of Kosova has been detained in France on a Serbian arrest warrant for alleged war crimes. Haradinaj was arrested on Wednesday by the French border police of upon his arrival at Basel-Mulhouse airport in eastern France on a flight from Pristina.
Notably, Serbia considers Haradinaj a war criminal for his role in leading a guerrilla insurgency during the 1998-99 conflict in its former southern province of Kosovo. In 2008, Kosovo declared independence with western backing.
Haradinaj also served as a Prime Minister of Kosovo in 2004 and 2005. He has consistently denied the allegation and stepped down as prime minister after just 100 days to face the charges.He also twice faced war crimes charges at the UN but was acquitted both times. The judge at his most recent trial in 2012 said there was no evidence to support the claims.
Kosovo’s foreign ministry acting strictly said in a statement, “he was stopped by French authorities based on an arrest warrant issued by Serbia in 2004, which for us is unacceptable.” The ministry said it was doing everything possible to secure his release, which it expected to happen.
On the other side, a French judiciary source said investigators will begin looking into whether there were reasons not to execute the extradition request, especially if it had been issued for political reasons. They would look at whether he had already been tried before the UN court on the same charges as those forming the basis for the arrest warrant, the source added.
Haradinaj is now an opposition leader in Kosovo. Interestingly, in June 2015 Haradinaj was arrested by Slovenian police but was released after two days following diplomatic pressure. Kosovo and France enjoy good diplomatic relations and Paris remains one of the biggest supporters of the youngest European state.
Interestingly, Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, but its status is not recognised by Serbia.