UN indicts Kosovo Albanian leader

Published on August 13, 2002, BBC

Category: Meet the Muslim Albanian Leaders

By Nicholas Wood, BBC correspondent in Pristina

A senior ethnic Albanian Kosovo politician has been charged by a UN court for violent behaviour. Ramush Haradinaj, a former leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), is accused along with five others of being involved in a shooting dating back almost two years. The indictment comes two months ahead of local elections. Mr Haradinaj is one of Kosovo's most high-profile politicians and the leader of the province's third-largest ethnic Albanian party.

Violent dispute
According to an international prosecutor serving with the UN mission in Kosovo, Mr Haradinaj is responsible for a breach of the peace after his alleged involvement in a violent dispute that took place in the west of the province in August 2000. He has been charged along with five other former KLA members. Under a separate investigation, the same group has been charged with the abduction and torture of fellow ethnic Albanians at the end of the war in Kosovo. UN officials have been adamant to stress that Mr Haradinaj has not been charged in relation to those crimes.

Fall from grace
The accusations are the latest in a series brought by the UN judicial system that has seen many former KLA fighters fall from grace. On Sunday, another former senior KLA commander, Rustrem Mustafa, was arrested by UN police, charged with crimes committed during the 1997-1999 conflict in the province. Some Albanian politicians, including Mr Haradinaj, have claimed that the arrests are politically motivated, coming just two months ahead of local elections - a charge the UN has strongly denied.

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