On 29 November, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) acquitted former Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, accused of war crimes, for the second time. The Serbian government made a special statement saying that the not guilty verdict was scandalous. It called the verdict an indulgence for committed crimes and ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. The Hague–based Tribunal acquitted Haradinaj in 2008 because the judges decided that there was insufficient evidence. However, his case went back to the ICTY for a new hearing at Serbia’s urgent request. Serbia said that some witnesses in the Haradinaj case were intimidated, and that many of them were simply eliminated. According to Belgrade, 30 witnesses and members of their families were killed from 1999 to 2011. Since the ICTY handed down its not guilty verdict to Haradinaj, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MID) made a special statement. It said that, for the first time in the history of international justice, the witnesses in this case were subjected to blatant blackmail, and very often simply eliminated. All this occurred in an atmosphere of complete impunity and with the connivance of international missions in Kosovo.
Dragan Stanojević, President of the United Serbian Diaspora in Eurasia, said, “For Serbs, the Hague Tribunal engenders cynicism because of its lack of justice. We should ask for the closure of the Hague Tribunal and ask for the reconsideration of its decisions, as well as holding trials of those who delivered such verdicts. All cooperation with the Hague Tribunal should be halted”. Again, the judges mentioned a lack of convincing evidence for convicting Haradinaj, who was one of the cruellest chieftains of the Albanian militants during the Kosovo War at the end of the 90s. He was involved in killing, torturing, raping, expelling, and persecuting the Serb population. Serbia opened 108 criminal cases involving murders and terrorism against him. In Kosovo, Haradinaj is one of the mafia godfathers. He controls arms, drugs, and gold smuggling.
Even former ICTY Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte said that she was shocked to hear the ruling of the Tribunal’s Chamber of Appeal. Aleksandr Karasev, an expert with the Institute of Slavic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said, “It’s not objective. According to it, all Serbs receive punishment, whilst it acquits all the rest. The Hague Tribunal had the task of creating a legal justification of the actions that were carried out by NATO and the USA in the Balkans, and the ICTY Tribunal fulfilled this task”. Two-thirds of the cases involved Serbs, and two-thirds of those convicted are Serbs too. Current forecasts are that, after his acquittal, Haradinaj will have a first-class political career. According to media reports, behind-the scenes talks about a possible coalition of Haradinaj’s party, the Alliance For the Future of Kosovo, with the Democratic Party of Kosovo led by the current Kosovo Prime Minister (and Haradinaj’s good friend) Hashim Thaçi are presently underway.
30 November 2012
Voice of Russia World Service