Opposition leader and former Kosovo Liberation Army commander Ramush Haradinaj will be banned from taking part in politics if he is released from The Hague while he awaits a war crimes retrial, EULEX officials have stated.
The EU rule-of-law mission in Kosovo, EULEX, has said it can monitor former Kosovo PM Haradinaj and co-defendant Lahi Brahimaj, who have asked to be released from the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia, ICTY, ahead of their retrial on war crimes charges.
According to a letter release to Balkan Insight by the ICTY, EULEX has confirmed it can meet all the requests and conditions from the Defence Counsels for their release, including Haradinaj’s politics ban.
Roy Reeve, acting head of EU mission, wrote in a letter dated August 24 that EULEX can provide the necessary guarantees.
He added that the mission will be able to ensure that Haradinaj will not hold any government position or engage in any political activity or political statement during his provisional release.
He will, however, be allowed to retain his position as head of the opposition Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, AAK.
Haradinaj is seen as the main adversary to the current Prime Minister, Hashim Thaci, in next year’s general election, giving his retrial and ban from politics significant political importance.
Haradinaj and Brahimaj, along with a third man, Idriz Balaj, originally faced trial on war crimes charges in 2008.
Haradinaj and Balaj were found not guilty, while Brahimaj was sentenced to six years for crimes against civilians in Kosovo.
But Haradinaj and Lahi Brahimaj were ordered to face retrial on 21 July by the Appellate Chamber at the ICTY, following claims prosecution witnesses had been intimidated into not giving evidence.
Haradinaj was a commander of the KLA during the conflict in Kosovo, while Balaj was the commander of the Black Eagles Unit within the KLA, and Brahimaj a KLA member stationed in the force’s Jabllanice headquarters in Gjakove municipality.
The indictment alleged that, under the three men, the KLA persecuted and abducted Serb, Albanian and Roma civilians who were perceived to be collaborating with Serbian forces in the Dukagjin area in 1998, in a bid to consolidate KLA control there.
Haradinaj surrendered on 19 July, before the Appellate chamber rendered its decision, ordering him to return to detention in Scheveningen in The Hague.
A date for the new trial or a decision on their provisional release has not yet been scheduled although members of Haradinaj’s party had suggested that their leader could be sent home as early as this week.
Haradinaj was a major figure in the KLA and became a key player in Kosovo politics after the end of the conflict in 1999.
His party, the AAK, came to power in 2004, with Haradinaj becoming prime minister.
But he served for only 100 days in the top job before being indicted for war crimes by the ICTY in 2005.