Ramush Haradinaj resigns after being called to Hague war crimes court

Haradinaj
FOTO: KoSSev

The Kosovo Prime Minister, Ramush Haradinaj suddenly resigned during a government session today. The Kosovo media previously reported that he received an invitation from the Office of the Special Prosecutor in the Hague, which Haradinaj himself confirmed at an extraordinary press conference. He claimed he will be questioned as a suspect.

“I am not indicted, but I will be questioned,” Ramush Haradinaj said, emphasizing that he resigned because he will not appear before the court as „the prime minister of the state of Kosovo,“ but as – Ramush Haradinaj.

During his media address, Haradinaj also underlined that the decision on the taxes would remain in force regardless of his resignation.

According to the Kosovo Constitution, after the Prime Minister’s resignation, the President is obliged, in consultation with parliamentary parties, to appoint a new prime minister-designate. If the ruling coalition fails to approve a new prime minister-designate, the assembly would dissolve and new elections would be called.

Previously, speculation on new elections to be held in the autumn ran rampant.

Haradinaj stated that the government will continue to function in the technical mandate and that there will be no vacuum. His resignation is irrevocable.

„It is now the president’s responsibility to start consultations for new elections. I will again place my faith in the people. I am not indicted, but I will be questioned. Both my party and I will participate in the elections. But I could not stay in the position of the head of government because I would be harming Kosovo,“ he said, reported Pristina-based Koha.

Haradinaj, however, also spoke in Serbian during the press conference, claiming that he received the invitation by the Special Prosecution as a „suspect“.

I announced that I resigned as prime minister of Kosovo at a government meeting. The reason behind this is a summons I received from the Special Court for Kosovo in the Hague to be questioned as a suspect. I wanted to separate this situation from the honor of my country and the honor of the Prime Minister. The Kosovo Prime Minister and the state of Kosovo will not appear before the court, but Ramush Haradinaj will

According to some media allegations, the Special Prosecution has so far questioned approximately 300 people in connection with allegations of war crimes described in the Council of Europe report compiled by Dick Marty. As the media reported, the chairman of the Kosovo Assembly, Kadri Veseli was also questioned two times by the Special Prosecution.

Ramush Haradinaj has been arrested several times and questioned two times by the Hague Tribunal. He spent three years in prison in Scheveningen and the Hague Tribunal previously acquitted him of all charges of war crimes on two occasions.

The Kosovo Prime Minister was last arrested on January 4, 2017, on the border between Switzerland and France – at a Swiss airport in Basel, in the French part – after which Serbia requested his extradition from France.

He was released a week later to await the court decision on Serbia’s extradition request, but his passport was taken away and he was forbidden from leaving the territory of France.

Haradinaj waited for the court’s decision in Strasbourg. After he was acquitted on April 27 of the same year at the Court of Appeals in Colmar, he then returned to Kosovo, where he was welcomed by a large number of his supporters.

Serbia launched an investigation against Haradinaj in 2004. In the meantime, however, the investigation was expanded with new charges and, as it was presented, with new evidence forwarded to the Court of Colmar.

Serbia is seeking Haradinaj on suspicion of committing war crimes against the civilian population in Kosovo in 1998 and 1999, and, as Belgrade previously announced, the crimes in question are not the ones which were the subject of trial before the Hague Tribunal.

At the same time, after returning from his last arrest, Ramush Haradinaj formed his government with the help of the votes of Srpska Lista, which has the support of official Belgrade.

Haradinaj was tried at the Hague Tribunal for war crimes committed in Kosovo, but he was finally acquitted of all charges in 2012.

He was previously acquitted of all 37 counts of the indictment for several forms of war crimes committed against Serbs, Roma and Albanians in the vicinity of Decani back in 2008.

He resigned as Prime Minister in March 2005, immediately before his voluntary departure to Hague, when the Hague Tribunal issued an indictment against him.

Although the Prosecution proved that KLA members committed crimes, it failed to prove that Haradinaj was responsible for them. The court ruled, however, that there was „a strong impression that the trial took place in an atmosphere in which the witnesses did not feel safe“ and that „the difficulty in obtaining evidence was a significant feature of this trial“. The Hague Court annulled the previous acquittal for witness intimidation in July 2010. The acquittal was criticized by Amnesty International, the Humanitarian Law Center and former chief prosecutor of the Hague tribunal, Carla Del Ponte.

The Hague Tribunal reissued an indictment against Haradinaj in 2011 for crimes against humanity and violations of the laws and customs of war in 1998.

Ramush Haradinaj received increased support from the Kosovo public since his arrest in Colmar, especially since he imposed the tax increase, which greatly decreased the public support of Kosovo President, Hashim Thaci. The Kosovo public has been visibly criticizing Thaci for many years now, while on the other hand, as several analysts pointed out so far, Ramush Haradinaj’s popularity has grown.

Some analysts estimated that Haradinaj’s more than half a year-long refusal to abolish the taxes is the main obstacle to reaching what they call the final agreement between Belgrade and Pristina. This final agreement, however, would contain the ethnic partition of Kosovo, on one hand, and the recognition, primarily of Kosovo’s independence by Serbia, on the other.

KoSSev recently conducted an interview with the Kosovo Prime Minister. Read more about it in the following news:

Haradinaj: The solution for our troubles is – there is no turning back, no partition, no union

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