Skip to comments.Kosovo: Tinker, Tailor… Guerilla, Prime Minister, War Criminal?
Posted on 11/17/2004 3:27:23 AM PST by Jane_N
The Hague tribunal is investigating Ramush Haradinaj, a man who could be Kosovos next prime minister.
PRISTINA, Kosovo -- In a move that sent shockwaves through Kosovos political landscape, the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague has questioned the leader of the provinces third-largest political party, Ramush Haradinaj from the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK), just as negotiations on the formation of a new government are entering a critical phase.
Should the negotiations between the AAK and Kosovos largest party, the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), succeed, Haradinaj has a good chance of even becoming prime minister. The AAK won nine seats in the recent elections to the Kosovo assembly. Haradinaj has indicated his willingness to enter a coalition with the LDK, which holds 47 seats, provided he is offered the prime ministers position.
The ICTY interview took place on 10 November in Kosovos capital Pristina and concerned Haradinajs role in 1998 and 1999 as a commander of the insurgent Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) in the western region of Dukagjini.
The ICTYs office of the prosecutor declined to confirm or deny reports that Haradinaj could soon be indicted.
Haradinaj himself was vague about the contents of his talk with the ICTY officials. I gave my opinion on certain issues, but there are some unresolved questions that make it necessary to continue our discussion later on, he said in a press release.
Two days later, he sounded pricklier when asked about the meeting, telling a local television station that he did not think the ICTY was investigating him. This is an insult to me and the whole of Kosovo, he said.
Haradinajs case prompted a strong and swift reaction from various political forces in Kosovo. Vetan Surroi, a prominent publisher and head of the citizens list Ora, regards him as a war hero and asked the other political leaders to sign a statement in support of Haradinaj and the dignity of the liberation war in Kosovo.
The president of Kosovo and LDK chair, Ibrahim Rugova, described Haradinaj as a respected political leader and member of parliament while Kosovos second political force, the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), asked all relevant institutions to protect the values of the liberation war.
A government spokesperson, Mimoza Kusari Lila, said: The government thinks that launching this kind of process creates confusion and presents serious obstacles for the consolidation of our institutions.
Representatives of the ethnic Serb minority of Kosovo remained silent.
Only days after Haradinaj received the invitation for the interview, the chief of the UN administration in Kosovo, Soren Jessen Petersen, had a meeting with ICTY chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte. Without giving further information, international sources said the meeting had been called to discuss cooperation between UNMIK and the Hague tribunal.
Jessen Petersen himself declined to comment on the issue.
Kosovo is a province of Serbia and Montenegro but has been under international administration for the last five years.
Just recently, after a meeting with EU foreign ministers in Luxemburg, Del Ponte criticized the UN administration in Kosovo for its failure to cooperate with the ICTY.
You cannot imagine what kind of problems we face during investigations conducted in Kosovo. We dont have any support from the international community and from local authorities there, she said in a press conference.
FREEDOM FIGHTER OR WAR CRIMINAL?
Haradinajs UCK activities caught the ICTYs attention some time ago. He said that in the case of an indictment, he would voluntarily surrender to The Hague.
Haradinaj lost two of his younger brothers during the war, while his other brother, Daut Haradinaj, is serving a five-year prison sentence in Kosovo. A former UCK commander, he was tried in 2002 along with four other members of the Dukagjini group for the kidnapping and murder of four Serbs.
Theirs was not the only trial of ex-UCK fighters accused of war crimes in Kosovo.
Another high-profile case involved four members of a gang in Pristina who got harsher sentences. One of them, Rrustem Mustafa-Remi, was sentenced to 17 years in prison, while the other three received sentences of between five and 13 years.
Five UCK fighters from the town of Kacanik are currently also standing trial for war crimes.
Though all these trials took place in Kosovo, they were run by international prosecutors and judges.
Only in one case are Kosovar Albanians standing trial at the ICTY. Fatmir Limaj, Haradin Balaj, and Isak Musliu are accused for the torture and murder of at least 10 Serbs and Albanians in the region of Drenica in 1998. Their trial began on 15 November.
After the war, Limaj was a high-ranking official of the DPK. His extradition to The Hague last year caused a public outcry.
The latest Kosovar to be extradited to The Hague is Beqe Beqaj, who was arrested on suspicion of intimidation of witnesses in the Limaj case.
Despite the strong reaction provoked by the accusations against Ramush Haradinaj and Fatmir Limaj, there is not much that Kosovos leaders can do for them, or indeed for any future indictee, as the Kosovar justice system is still firmly in the hands of the international administration.
Fatmire Terdevci is a TOL correspondent.
Wow, a leading light in the Albanian community in Kosovo might be a terrorist. Please wait whilst I regain my composure. The shock is all far too much. /sarcasm
Ramush in the south and Remi and in the south were the most active KLA commanders murdering their fellow Albanians.
Kacanik (and the outlying village of Kotlina) was where the KLA (under a guy named Bardhi) murdered a couple of dozen anti-KLA Albanians circa March 12th.
Afterwards the KLA tossed the bodies into a garbage dump.
The Clintonistas tried to make it out as if the government kdid the killing in Kacanik - when it was the KLA. The truth about KLA crimes keeps coming out.................
ICTY has ignored Haradinaj for more than 6 years.
Now, ICTY suddenly wants to trial him. Because many of his crimes are creditred to Serbian police already. Sort of Capone going to jail for tax evasion.
He should be trialed in Belgrade, Serbia because the crimes were committed on Serbian soil.
ICTY is in disarray and wants to get support from stupid Serbs and show figleaf of impartiality.
Something else. Methinks someone is clearing way for Soros pawn Veton Suroi. Suroi has the same goal as Haradinaj but smoother way -White collar terrorist.
I just did a Google search on "Ramush Haradinaj" and there is quite a lot of "interesting stuff" (Results 1 - 10 of about 11,200 for "Ramush Haradinaj" to be more exact). Just straight of from the first page of results I got this:
"Ramush Haradinaj, the head of ANA" http://www.realitymacedonia.org.mk/web/news_page.asp?nid=253
The 'new' terrorist organization (Albanian National Army) ANA is headed by Ramush Haradinaj, and its goal is fight for new territories keeping the dream of creating greater Albania alive, said at the press conference the spoke person for the Macedonian Defense Ministry Marjan Gjurovski.
Also from the same site:
"According to the website Who is Who and What is What in the Albanian Cause (http://crisis.vmacedonia.com/), Ramush Haradinaj is former commander in the KLA and former right-hand man of Agim Cheku, the head of the Kosovo Protection Corps, convicted war criminal. Formally, after a financial scandal, Haradinaj was removed from his post in KPC. His brother, Daut Haradinaj, former KPC commander for Metohija, is on U.S. President's black list of Albanian terrorists.
On May 25, 2000, Haradinaj participated in the Gnjilane meeting (also attended by Agim Cheku, Murat Jashari, Shaqir Shaqiri, and Shefket Musliu). The goal of this meeting was continuing of war in Serbia and preparation for war in Macedonia.
Haradinaj's main source of income is smuggling of tobacco and illegal drugs, under control of Naser Kelmendi and Ekrem Luka. On July 7, 2000, Haradinaj was wounded in the village Strelci, West Kosovo, and treated in an American Hospital in Germany. The motive for the wounding was inter-mafia conflict between the gangs belonging to Tachi-Haradinaj and Musaj families.
In 1999, the KLA unit under Ramush Haradinaj's command killed 40 civilians from the Kosovo village of Glodjani and threw the bodies into the Radonjichko Lake chanal.
US 'covered up'(http://observer.guardian.co.uk/print/0,3858,4061661-102275,00.html) for Kosovo ally Nick Wood in Pristina reports on a UN claim that American officials withheld evidence linking a leading politician to a gunfight, drugs and war crimes. By the British paper The Observer, Sunday September 10, 2000.
A BBC story about him from 13 August 2002 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/2189870.stm:
"According to an international prosecutor serving with the UN mission in Kosovo, Mr Haradinaj is responsible for a breach of the peace after his alleged involvement in a violent dispute that took place in the west of the province in August 2000.
He has been charged along with five other former KLA members.
Under a separate investigation, the same group has been charged with the abduction and torture of fellow ethnic Albanians at the end of the war in Kosovo.
UN officials have been adamant to stress that Mr Haradinaj has not been charged in relation to those crimes."
I personally found this to be of particular interest although it's not specifically just about Haradinaj, from an article in Der Speigel September 21, 2002.
""Everyone in Kosovo knows but none dares to speak about it," says the former prime minister of the exiled Kosovars and current chairman of the New Party for Kosovo, Bujar Bukoshi. "After the war the cruelest cleansings took place among the Albanians. Under the pretext that they were 'Serbian collaborators', the leaders of the KLA liquidated their political opponents ; old blood feuds were settled, and Albanian civilians were executed by the Albanians themselves." The number of the victims is estimated to be more than a thousand. The perpetrators or instigators were usually former senior KLA leaders ; after the war they were integrated nearly without exception into the KLA successor organization, the civilian Kosovo Protection Corps. Allegedly a former KLA commander and two of his fellow soldiers, according to their indictment, instigated a war criminal to kill the former KLA commander Ekrem Rexha known as "Drini". This moderate Albanian had announced the publication of a book on war crimes in Kosovo, including those committed by the KLA. A few hours after Drini's death KLA deputies visited his widow in order to get "the computer with records on the announced book". However the international police responsible for postwar crimes was faster. Also awaiting trial since not long ago are once legendary KLA commanders Sami Lushtaki and Rustem Mustafa ("Remi"). The latter is accused, along with three other KLA officers, of having raped Albanian women and killed at least five civilians in private prison camps during and after the war. Daut Haradinaj, the notorious brother of the former KLA commander Ramush Haradinaj (who in the meanwhile became head of the third largest political party, the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo), is accused with five other members of the Kosovo Liberation Army of the murder of four members of the Liberal Party (LDK) of Kosovo president Ibrahim Rugova. After arresting an influential KLA commander near the town of Dragas, the police stated that at the same time bomb attacks in the region stopped. Recently another senior KLA member from Prizren was brought before the investigating judge. He is accused not only of having committed criminal activities but also of being the top agent of the Albanian secret service. The hard disk of his computer in the meanwhile has become a treasure trove of information on war crimes, extortion and Albanian secret service plans. "We are slowly moving forward," says German Christian Lindmeier, a spokesman for the UN administration in Kosovo (UNMIK). Unnoticed by the public the Hague tribunal has also opened an office in Pristina. Rumors according to which the list of the Hague investigators, in addition to Serb war criminals, also includes three former KLA leaders and now influential politicians - Hashim Thaci, Agim Cheku and Ramush Haradinaj - have been neither confirmed nor denied by the spokesmen of the tribunal. According to Hague tribunal chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte, in any case indictments against some Kosovo Albanians will be filed before the end of the year. Shortly before the end of the war Thaci was sentenced in absentia by a Serbian court in Pristina to ten years' imprisonment. Belgrade presented the chief prosecutor in The Hague with a disk with 27,000 pages on the alleged war crimes committed by the top KLA triumvirate. The extradition of at least one of the former KLA leaders would be welcome for many Serbs to explain the Serbian war crimes in the Kosovo as defense of the state and population. "We know a lot," says UNMIK spokesman Lindmeier, "but our problem is witnesses. They have a gun pointed at their head. Many withdraw their original statements after threats by their former KLA fellow fighters". The heroic elite which ended up in jail is guarded by about twenty prison wardens from Germany flown in by plane to do the job. Albanian guards received death threats if they attempted to prevent escape attempts. For many Albanians the imprisoned KLA leaders are still war heroes. Every Friday demonstrators lay flowers in front of the prison in Pristina. They accuse UNMIK of developing "Milosevic tendencies". The chairman of the journalist federation, Milan Zeka, has even called on his colleagues to fight against the "police dictatorship" of UNMIK chief Michael Steiner. The German, they say, is insulting a whole generation of Albanians. But this will not discourage Steiner from further arrests and extradition of Albanians to the Hague tribunal despite rumors in Kosovo of a huge revolt by the Albanians. He will carry out every warrant for arrest of the Hague tribunal : "During my mandate we will adhere to law and order in Kosovo."
http://www.spiegel.de/spiegel/0,1518,215990,00.html (This is in German, a friend translated it for me)
Sorry for not using proper HTML in the last post to make reading of that last (and longest) section easier, but it's getting rather late in Sweden and I just couldn't be bothered to be honest :S