War crimes tribunal sets Haradinaj trial

A UN tribunal today set January 2007 for the beginning of former Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj’s war crimes trial.

At a procedural hearing at The Hague, Netherlands, the tribunal said the trial was likely to last 18 months, and certainly no less than a year.

Haradinaj, a former commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army during the 1998/1999 conflict against Serbian government forces, was freed from detention one month ago to await the start of the trial at home.

The court said it would convene a hearing in September to discuss the conditions of his release.

Haradinaj has been restricted to Pristina and his home village of Glodjane, and instructed to report weekly to UN authorities administering the province. He must return to The Hague whenever summoned by the court.

He also is prohibited from making public appearances or engaging in political activity during the first 90 days of his release. He was allowed, however, to continue to serve as president of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, his political party.

Haradinaj, 37, resigned as prime minister on March 9, a day after learning of the UN indictment accusing him of responsibility for the persecution, murder, rape and abuse of Serbs and Roma, or Gypsies, in the ethnic Albanian-dominated southern province of Serbia.

He also is alleged to have participated in beatings and torture, including the abuse of Albanian civilians believed to have collaborated with Serbs.

Haradinaj’s co-defendants, Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj, attended today’s hearing. They were expected to seek release from detention after the tribunal’s summer recess.

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