Kosovo’s PM quits after being called to Hague war crimes court

Kosovo Primie Minister Ramush Haradinaj resigns from his post. (Reuters pic)

PRISTINA: Kosovo’s Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj said on Friday he was resigning because he had been called to a war crimes court in The Hague to answer questions from prosecutors related to Kosovo’s violent independence struggle.

“The reason for this decision is because of a call I have received from a specialist chamber as a suspect,” Haradinaj said, adding he would travel to the Hague next week.

Haradinaj, a former guerrilla commander, has always denied any wrongdoing and said he is ready to face any accusations.

He said the country should now have early elections.

The Specialist Chamber was set up in 2015 to try ex-Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) guerrillas for alleged atrocities in the war of 1998-99 that led to independence from Serbia.

Asked about Haradinaj’s case, Christopher Bennet, the spokesman for the prosecutor, told Reuters: “Rule 30 states that I have an obligation to protect the privacy of every individual. I cannot confirm anything”.

The chamber in The Hague is governed by Kosovo law but staffed by international judges and prosecutors. It is funded by the European Union, which both Kosovo and Serbia hope to join.

The court sits in the Dutch city partly to help ensure the protection of witnesses. Previous cases involving high-ranking former KLA officers have seen witness intimidation.

This is the second time Hardinaj has to resign as prime minister. In 2005 he was indicted by the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal for former Yugoslavia. He was tried and acquitted twice by that court.

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci will now have to consult with political parties on forming another government or holding snap elections.