Kosovo PM resigns before questioning by a Hague-based court

Ramush Haradinaj agreed to questioning by a court probing crimes against ethnic Serbs during and after the 1998-99 war.

    Haradinaj is due at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor's Office next week [Anadolu via Government of Kosovo]
    Haradinaj is due at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor's Office next week [Anadolu via Government of Kosovo]

    Kosovo's prime minister has resigned after being called in for questioning by a Hague-based court that is investigating crimes against ethnic Serbs during and after the country's 1998-99 war.

    On Friday, Ramush Haradinaj said he agreed to be interviewed at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor's Office next week and did not want to appear there as prime minister.

    "I considered that I cannot go to the questioning as head of the government," Haradinaj said during a news conference.

    Haradinaj, who took office as prime minister in September 2017, said that while he thought the summons was politically bad for Kosovo, he "will respect the legal request".

    "I will go there. I will defend myself as a fighter of my country," he said.

    Haradinaj also urged Kosovo's president to call an early parliamentary election.

    "Responsibility now goes to the president to start consultations to set the date of the [general] election," he said.

    "I will offer myself to the people again to get their trust. I am not accused, but [will be] questioned" by the court, Haradinaj added.

    The Kosovo Specialist Chambers and the Specialist Prosecutor's Office were established at the European Union's urging after the Council of Europe in 2011 catalogued allegations of widespread war crimes committed by the separatist Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).

    The court started questioning former Kosovo fighters this year. Haradinaj was one of the top KLA commanders during the war. A United Nations tribunal cleared him three times of war crimes charges.

    At the time of the war, Kosovo was a Serbian province and KLA members were mostly ethnic Albanians.

    A bloody Serb crackdown against Kosovo Albanian separatists and civilians led NATO to intervene by bombing Serbia in the spring of 1999.

    Kosovo eventually made a unilateral declaration of independence in 2008 and it is recognised by the US and most of the West, but not by Serbia and its allies Russia and China.

    SOURCE: News agencies