30 Nov 2012

Former Kosovo PM cleared by UN tribunal again

6:04 am on 30 November 2012

After a retrial in The Hague, a UN tribunal has cleared former Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj of Kosovo of war crimes from the 1998-99 conflict.

Mr Haradinaj, a rebel commander during the war, was accused of overseeing a campaign of torture and murder against Serbs and suspected collaborators.

Four years after the last acquittal the tribunal again ruled that the prosecution had not proved the case.

Mr Haradinaj's acquittal in 2008 was overturned and a retrial ordered after appeal judges ruled that there had been witness intimidation.

But Mr Haradinaj and co-defendants Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj have again been cleared of all charges.

Mr Haradinaj served as prime minister for 100 days before he stepped down in early 2005 to deal with his first trial.

Crowds in the capital Pristina watched the latest verdict on a giant screen, and celebrated his acquittal by letting off fireworks and cheering.

Lawyer Ben Emmerson said his client now wants to restart his political career.

However, the BBC reports Mr Haradinaj is still considered a war criminal in Belgrade and an arrest warrant has been issued against him by Serbia's war crimes prosecutor.

Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008.

Many Serbs feel there has been little accountability for crimes committed against them during the wars of the 1990s.