Kosovo’s Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj has resigned, following a summons to a special court for the prosecution of war crimes during the Kosovo War. Haradinaj is accused by Serbia of war crimes against the Serb civilian population committed while he was a commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army during the Kosovo war between 1998 and 1999.
Haradinaj first became Kosovo’s prime minister in 2004, but he resigned soon after to face trial for war crimes by a UN tribunal in The Hague. However he was acquitted in 2008 — the same year Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia — and again in 2012 after a retrial was ordered owing to allegations of witness intimidation in the first case.
Haradinaj is not the only top official to received a summons from the Special Court for War Crimes during the war. Former Speaker of Parliament Jakup Krasniqi (2007-2014) confirmed in a press release on Saturday that he also received a summons.
He will be interrogated in The Hague on July 24, Krasniqi, top official of the co-governing Nisma (Initiative) of Fatmir Limaj, said. However, he did not state whether he will be interrogated as a witness or suspect. During the war Krasniqi was a KLA spokesman.
The summons against Haradinaj was issued by the special tribunal established in The Hague in 2015, which specifically deals with crimes committed by KLA members. The court began questioning in The Hague in January 2019.
Kosovar media reports that first indictments may be filed during the year. There are speculations that Haradinaj and President Hashim Thaci and Speaker of Parliament Kadri Veseli could be charged.
Haradinaj said he had agreed to be interviewed next week, but as an ‘ordinary citizen of Kosovo’ and not as Prime Minister.
“I considered that I cannot go to the questioning as head of the government,” he said during a news conference on Friday. Haradinaj said he would “respect the legal request” although he thought the summons was politically bad for Kosovo. “I will go there,” he said. “I will defend myself as a fighter of my country,” reports The Guardian.
Following a government meeting on Friday, Haradinaj said it was now the responsibility of the president to start deliberating on a date for new elections. He announced that he would stand for election again “to maintain the confidence of the people”.
Kosovo unilaterally declared its independence from Serbia in 2008, although Serbia continues to regard Kosovo as its province.