A request by Ramush Haradinaj, the former Prime Minister of Kosovo, to be provisionally released ahead of his retrial at The Hague has been denied.
The Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY, declared that, although there was no evidence Haradinaj posed a danger to witnesses, his release would have a ‘cumulative effect on the atmosphere that would be unfavourable to witnesses’.
Haradinaj was ordered to face a retrial in July after witnesses said they had been intimidated into not giving evidence at his original trial in which he was found not guilty of war crimes charges.
The Trial Chamber added that although it was difficult to foresee the length of the pre-trial phase, there was no indication it would be lengthy.
Prior to the decision, the EU rule-of-law mission in Kosovo, EULEX, offered guarantees over Haradinaj’s release, saying he would not leave Kosovo.
Haradinaj’s opposition party, the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, AAK, on Monday criticised the Kosovo government for not providing support for his release.
AAK said that Haradinaj will prove his innocence as he did in the first trial.
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.
Haradinaj was a commander of the KLA during the conflict in Kosovo, while Balaj was the commander of the Black Eagles Unit within the organisation, 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.