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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 March, 2005, 16:37 GMT
Kosovo ex-PM war charges revealed
Ramush Haradinaj
Ramush Haradinaj has urged calm in the province
Kosovo's former prime minister has been charged with 37 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including persecution, murders and rape.

Ramush Haradinaj surrendered to the UN tribunal in the Hague on Wednesday, having resigned the day before.

The indictment, which has now been made public, also names two former allies.

Mr Haradinaj, a former commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), says he is innocent.

He faces 17 counts of crimes against humanity and 20 of war crimes.

He could face life imprisonment if convicted of any of the charges. He is expected to appear in court and to enter a plea in the coming days.

His fellow KLA commanders Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj each face 35 counts.

'Approved executions'

The men led ethnic Albanian guerrillas against Serb forces in Kosovo's western region during the 1998-99 conflict.

The indictment said the three had engaged in a "joint criminal enterprise", which amounted to the "unlawful removal of Serb civilians" from their area of command, Dukagjin.

Some people were abducted and tortured, the tribunal alleges, while Serbs who failed to leave their homes were murdered.

It said while the accused may not have participated in some of the abuses with which they are charged, they bear overall responsibility.

Mr Haradinaj, it said, "condoned and encouraged criminal conduct... on some occasions, personally ordered, controlled and participated in beatings... and on at least one occasion, gave his tacit approval as commander for detained persons to be executed".

Mr Balaj is accused of personally raping a Roma woman.

Plea for calm

Mr Haradinaj, 36, is considered a hero by many Kosovo Albanians.

Announcing his resignation on Tuesday, he urged calm in the UN-administered Serbian province, which is dominated by ethnic Albanians.

"I have been called upon to make a sacrifice, something I never believed would happen," he said.

"This means also co-operation with international justice, however unjust it is."

The Kosovo conflict ended when Serb forces were driven out by a Nato bombing campaign. The UN now runs the province.

Nato has deployed additional 1,000 troops in the province to bolster the Nato-led Kosovo Protection Force (K-For) mission, amid reports that ethnic Albanians would hold protests.

Ramush Haradinaj protests his innocence

Profile: Ramush Haradinaj
08 Mar 05 |  Europe
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