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Page last updated at 15:36 GMT, Thursday, 3 April 2008 16:36 UK

Hague court acquits Kosovo ex-PM

Ramush Haradinaj (File photo 9/6/05)
Mr Haradinaj is seen as a hero by many Kosovo Albanians

The International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague has acquitted a former commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) of war crimes.

Ramush Haradinaj, who is also an ex-prime minister, was found not guilty on 37 counts, including murder, persecution, rape and torture.

But another ex-KLA commander, Lahi Brahimaj, was sentenced to six years for torture and cruel treatment.

The judge said much of the evidence had been inconclusive or non-existent.

But he also complained of witness intimidation, saying some witnesses had not testified because they had been afraid.

The third accused man, Idriz Balah, was found not guilty.

All three had denied committing war crimes in Kosovo in 1998 while fighting against Serb forces.

They had been accused of driving Serb and Roma civilians from their homes, and targeting Kosovo Albanians who were suspected of collaborating with Serb forces.

Prosecutors had asked for 25-year prison sentences for each of them.

Big following

Mr Haradinaj had been a KLA commander fighting Serb forces and later became prime minister in UN-run Kosovo.

He commanded Kosovo Albanian forces in the west of the country in 1998 against Serb security forces.

After the war he formed a political party - the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo - which came third in the elections of 2004.

It joined the governing coalition, and he was chosen as prime minister.

He resigned in 2005 when he was indicted by the war crimes tribunal.

Mr Haradinaj has enjoyed a big following within the Kosovo Albanian community - hundreds turned out to see him off when he flew to the Netherlands in 2005 to face the charges.




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