War criminal from Kosovo arrested in France

Friday, 6 January, 2017 - 14:00

Fraught diplomatic ties between Serbia and Kosovo came under further strain yesterday (5 January) in a row over international arrest warrants issued by Belgrade for former Kosovar guerrillas, including an ex-prime minister detained in France.

Ramush Haradinaj, a guerrilla commander during the 1998-99 war against Serbian rule who served briefly as prime minister in 2004 and 2005, was arrested on Wednesday (4 January) and remanded in prison by a French court on Thursday.

Kosovo asked the European Union on Thursday to press Serbia to drop the warrants against him and others, and angry government and opposition leaders in Pristina called for a halt to EU-mediated normalisation talks between Belgrade and its former, mainly ethnic Albanian province.

As Serbia – which still formally considers Kosovo part of its territory – confirmed it would seek Haradinaj’s extradition, Kosovo cancelled a visit by Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić to a mainly ethnic Serb town in Kosovo scheduled for today (6 December), the eve of Christian Orthodox Christmas Day.

A Serbian government official, who asked not to be named, said Nikolić’s forward team was “harassed” at the border crossing and could not perform necessary security checks.

“The visit will not proceed as planned, this is likely related to the Haradinaj arrest,” the official said.

Around 20 Kosovo citizens subject to Interpol Red Notice arrest warrants – mainly ex-members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) that fought Serbian security forces.