Lately | Politics

France delays decision on Haradinaj extradition request

By - 12.01.2017

Former KLA commander remanded on bail while all evidence considered.

A French court this afternoon ruled not to extradite Ramush Haradinaj to Serbia at this point in time, although Kosovo’s former prime minister has been remanded on police bail and is not permitted to leave France.

The fallout of war may yet send Kosovo’s ‘Rambo’ once again into the ring with the enemy that he had declared war on almost two decades ago. The former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) commander of the Dukagjini operative zone, and now leader of Kosovo’s Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK), could yet face Serbia again in a war crimes court, as he awaits a final decision by French authorities while they review all of the evidence.

The news was confirmed from France by Haradinaj’s lawyer Arianit Koci, who explained to the media that the bail decision restricts Haradinaj’s right to travel back to Kosovo and obliges him to report to a French police station twice a week until another decision is reached.

This afternoon’s decision by the court in Colmar, comes eight days after his arrest at Basel-Mulhouse Freiburg airport, where he was apprehended on January 4 based on a 2004 Interpol warrant initiated by Serbia.

Koci explained to Telegrafi that the police bail will last until a further court decision regarding Serbia’s request for Haradinaj’s extradition, since new evidence that Serbia submitted with yesterday’s extradition request has to be reviewed. “This request will be examined in a period of between 18 and 40 days,” he said.  

Haradinaj has twice been tried for charges initiated by Serbia in the U.N.-backed International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague, and was acquitted of all charges in 2012.  

Serbia has brought 108 criminal complaints against Haradinaj, which mainly relate to charges on terrorism, war crimes and murder of civilians during the years 1998-99 in Kosovo.

Based on media reports, Haradinaj was travelling to France on a diplomatic passport. It is the second time that he has been detained on the 2004 Interpol arrest warrant after he was apprehended in Slovenia in 2015; on that occasion he was held for two days before being released.

His arrest last week was followed by various reactions and outcries in Kosovo, as well as in Albania, with critics arguing that the warrant is entirely politically motivated. Haradinaj had travelled to France in 2016 during the European football champions without being arrested.

Critics also point to the statement by EU External Action Service spokesperson Maja Kocijancic calling for Haradinaj’s case to be resolved through communication between Kosovo and Serbia as evidence that the issue is politically motivated and not solely judicial.

Haradinaj’s case has sparked a variety of reactions. Kosovo’s Assembly held an extraordinary session yesterday (January 10), resulting in a unified call for his immediate release, although a proposed resolution failed to pass. In the meantime, several protests have taken place within Kosovo, and also in front of French embassies by members of the Kosovo diaspora in some European and U.S. cities.

Despite both parties having engaged in EU-facilitated dialogue in Brussels since 2011 aimed at the normalization of relations, disagreement between Kosovo and Serbia seems only to have deepened with the Haradinaj developments.K