BELGRADE – According to Deutsche Welle, talk about the possibility of France extraditing Ramush Haradinaj to the Special Court for KLA crimes is growing louder.
The head of the Serbian War Crimes Prosecution, Milan Petrovic, confirmed that this is a possibility, the German broadcaster said in a report published on its Serbian service website.
Haradinaj, a Kosovo Albanian politician and a former KLA commander, was arrested in early January in France on a Serbian war crimes warrant. A French court is yet to decide on Serbia’s extradition request.
Deutsche Welle is reporting that Serbia suspects Haradinaj is responsible for 13 deaths, children among them, and that these allegations are corroborated by statements of 30 witnesses. The key point, the report added, is that Serbian authorities “insist these crimes were committed in 1999 and have not been previously considered by the Hague Tribunal” which acquitted Haradinaj of war crimes charges related to 1998.
Petrovic told the broadcaster that the case is “unburdened by any political connotation” and that Serbia expects France to extradite the suspect. But he refused to reveal any details from the extradition request, because the issue if witnesses is “especially sensitive – their situation is such that the secrecy of the investigation could be undermined, while the safety of the damaged parties and the victims could also be brought into question.”
Petrovic said that Belgrade would not give up on prosecuting Haradinaj “until he is brought before a court and answers for the crimes we have charged him with.”
Serbia would cooperate with the Special Court if Haradinaj is turned over to it, he said, and will put him on trial if he is extradited to Serbia.
Milivoje Mihajlovic, Radio Belgrade Director who for many years reported from Kosovo, told Deutsche Welle that he thinks Haradinaj is more likely to be extradited “to The Hague” – where the Special Court for KLA crimes is seated – than to Serbia.
“The case could end in his being set free, after the Ejup Ganic model, or by his being taken to The Hague. And in some way, this would represent the opening of that special court. I don’t think there’s mood in France to extradite him to Serbia.”
He also said the process is “not in any way political” as the charges concern Haradinaj’s “activities” that resulted in a complete ethnic cleansing of the area of Metohija of Serbs.
“It’s important for reconciliation and for truth about the crimes, as well as a debt toward the families and the victims – and Albanians were also among his victims, that this is a clean court process without politics. The first process against Haradinaj in The Hague (the Hague Tribunal) involved plenty of politics, representatives of international missions in Kosovo were even saying that they expected him to return as an innocent man. That story should therefore have its ending in the court, and the reconciliation process should be moved toward.”
Mihajlovic also thinks that Haradinaj’s arrest will not affect the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, as Hashim Thaci has the main role in it on the Kosovo Albanian side – “and those two are, in a way, political opponents.”