[QODLink]
Europe
Trial of ex-Kosovo PM begins
Murder of Serbs among 37 charges against Ramush Haradinaj and his co-accused.
Last Modified: 05 Mar 2007 20:05 GMT
 Ramush Haradinaj was also former leader of  the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo party [AFP]

Kosovo's former prime minister has "blood on his hands", the UN chief prosecutor has said at the start of a war crimes trial on charges stemming from the conflict against Serb forces in 1998-99.
 
Ramush Haradinaj, former regional commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), resigned in 2005 after being indicted by the United Nations.
Haradinaj is the highest-ranking Kosovo Albanian politician to face the the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) - facing life if found guilty.
 
The UN tribunal indicted Haradinaj for murder, rape and torture alleged to have been committed by forces he commanded.
Standing trial alongside him are Idriz Balaj, the commander of the "Black Eagles", a special unit of the KLA, and Lahi Brahimaj, Haradinaj's uncle and a close associate.

The three men face a total of 37 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

'Violent crimes'

Carla del Ponte, the chief prosecutor, told the court in her opening statement: "These three men come before you accused of crimes - ugly, cruel and violent crimes.

Your Views

"If a country has deliberately planned and carried out genocide, it should be responsible for its acts."

Adolfo Talpalar, Stockholm, Sweden

 

Send us your views

"Be in no doubt that this warlord, his lieutenant and his jailer have blood on their hands."

According to the prosecution the men formed a joint criminal enterprise aimed at driving out Serb civilians and others perceived to be collaborating with the Serbs or not supporting the KLA from the region under their control.

Haradinaj, 38, was indicted in 2005 while serving as the prime minister of the Albanian-dominated Serbian province.

After resigning, he surrendered to the ICTY, but was allowed to return to Kosovo and retake leadership of his party, which is now a member of the ruling coalition in the UN-administered province.

The indictment charges him with allowing KLA troops under his command to target Serb and other civilians that were seen as collaborators for kidnapping, murder, detention and other mistreatment.

Detention centres

He is also charged with overseeing the setting up of detention centres were civilians were unlawfully held, abused and tortured by troops under his command.

A number of prisoners died as a result of the beatings while others were executed on the orders of the accused, the prosecution says.

All the defendants have insisted on their innocence.

  

In November 2005 the court sentenced former KLA member Haradin Bala to 13-years in prison for torture and murders committed at a KLA-run prison camp; two of his co-accused were acquitted.

  

Though still a Serbian province, Kosovo has been run by the UN since 1999, after a Nato bombing campaign helped end a crackdown by Belgrade-controlled forces against the KLA and its supporters.

Source:
Agencies and Al Jazeera
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Featured
President Poroshenko arrives in Washington on Thursday with money and military aid on his mind, analysts say.
Early players in private medicine often focused on volume over quality, turning many Chinese off for-profit care.
Al Jazeera asked people across Scotland what they think about the prospect of splitting from the United Kingdom.
With social media dominating communication among young Americans, taunting is no longer confined to school hours.
Referendum on Scottish independence is the first major election in the UK where 16 and 17-year olds get a vote.
join our mailing list