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Thousands back former Kosovo prime minister

Thousands back former Kosovo prime minister

Several thousand ethnic Albanians marched yesterday in Kosovo in support of the province's former prime minister standing trial on war crimes charges in the U.N. tribunal.
Some 3,000 supporters of Ramush Haradinaj, Kosovo's former prime minister and a former rebel commander during the province's 1998-1999 war, chanted his name, waved Albanian flags and held his pictures as well as banners with slogans such as "Freedom for liberators" and "We believe in justice."
Haradinaj and two wartime associates face 37 counts of atrocities against Serbs and their suspected supporters in Kosovo in 1998.
The march was held in Kosovo's capital, Pristina, and is the latest in a series of similar gatherings in support of Haradinaj held throughout the province. Yesterday's march was led by some members of the government, lawmakers and officials from Alliance for Future of Kosovo, Haradinaj's party, which is part of Kosovo's ruling coalition.
"We believe strongly in his innocence," said Ahmet Isufi, a senior party official. "We are convinced that he and his co-fighters do not belong in the Hague."
"We will all celebrate their release in an independent Kosovo," Isufi said.
Posters have sprung up across the province since early March when Haradinaj appeared before the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands on charges of involvement in a criminal plot to murder, rape and torture Serbs and Gypsies in the Albanian-dominated province.
All three defendants have denied the charges. They face maximum life sentences if convicted.
Building on his popularity as a fighter for the Kosovo Liberation Army, Haradinaj entered politics after the 1998-99 war and rose to serve 100 days as prime minister before resigning in March 2005 following his indictment. He turned himself in to the U.N. court and declared his innocence, but was later allowed to return home and resume limited political activities.


Updated : 2021-04-17 05:23 GMT+08:00