UN court to rule in appeal against ex-Kosovo PM's acquittal

16th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

The UN's Yugoslav war crimes court said Friday it will hand down judgement next week in an appeal against the acquittal of ex-Kosovo prime minister Ramush Haradinaj, accused of "ethnic cleansing" of Serbs.

It will also decide the fate of Haradinaj's co-accused Idriz Balaj, also acquitted, and that of Lahi Brahimaj, who headed a notorious detention camp and was given a six-year prison sentence.

The judgement will be read on Wednesday, July 21, the International Criminal Court for the former Yugoslavia said in a statement.

Haradinaj, the most senior Kosovo leader to stand trial at the ICTY, was freed after being found not guilty of murdering, torturing and raping Serbian civilians and political opponents.

Judges found insufficient evidence to convict him following a trial marked by the reluctance of witnesses to testify, allegedly under pressure of intimidation.

The prosecution had sought 25-year prison terms for the three men, all senior figures in the separatist ethnic Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).

Haradinaj, 42, was a commander of the KLA guerrilla group at the time of the alleged atrocities, as was Balaj, 38, who allegedly headed a paramilitary unit known as the Black Eagles.

Brahimaj, 40, was a deputy commander of the KLA and ran the Jablanica prison camp, where he was said to have personally tortured inmates.

All pleaded not guilty.

In 2005, after he was indicted by the ICTY, Haradinaj stepped down as prime minister of Kosovo and surrendered to the UN court.

The prosecution had appealed against the acquittals, while Brahimaj contested his conviction.

© 2010 AFP

0 Comments To This Article