Haradinaj, the end of a trial of exceptions


With Kosovo on the brink of declaring its independence from Serbia, the case against its resistance hero former Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj came to an end on January 23 before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

Everything about the Haradinaj trial was exceptional, including the announcement by the defense last December that they would not present a case. For the lawyers of Haradinaj and his co-accused Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj, there was simply nothing more to say. In their view, their crossexamination of prosecution witnesses had done enough damage to either cast doubt on their credibility or dismantle the facts they had testified about.

This was the second trial before the ICTY involving former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), the resistance army against the Serb dominance in Kosovo in 1998-1999. According to the prosecution, Haradinaj, born in 1968, was the overall commander and the most powerful individual in the Dukagjini Zone. Balaj, 26 at the time, commanded a special unit, the Black Eagles, while Brahimaj, 28 at the time, was a senior KLA figure in the Dukagjini Zone. This close relative to Haradinaj was more specifically in charge of the Jabllanicë district in the town of Dakovica, in particular the detention centre where prisoners were allegedly tortured and murdered.

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07 December 2011 by Radosa Milutinovic

The primary purpose of the retrial of Ramush Haradinaj, as proclaimed by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in its appeal judgement in July, should have been to hear testimonies of two "key" witnesses who proved unwilling to testify in the original trial in 2007. Almost four months into the retrial which started in mid-August, its stated aim has not yet been achieved. 


When he first appeared before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) on March 9, 2005, Ramush Haradinaj was Prime Minister of Kosovo. A former nightclub bouncer, he became leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) during the conflict with Serbia in 1998. His subordinate Idriz Balaj was commander of the KLA "Black Eagles", a "rapid intervention special unit". And his uncle, Lahi Brahimaj, was in charge of the KLA's finances. But for the prosecution, the trial of these three men, which started in The Hague on March 5, 2007, is not about a resistance movement breaching the laws of war, but about the cruel abuse of power.

24 October 2005 by Laurent Abadie

In a decision unprecedented in the history of international justice, a trial chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) ruled on October 12, in a 2-1 vote, that the former Prime Minister of Kosovo, Ramush Haradinaj, "may appear in public and engage in public political activities to the extent which UN Mission in Kosovo [UNMIK] finds would be important for a positive development of the political and security situation in Kosovo." The Prosecutor is "appalled" by the decision and has filed a suspensive request. As a result, Haradinaj has not been allowed to speak in public for more than two days.

14 March 2005 by Laurent Abadie

The Prime Minister of Kosovo, Ramush Haradinaj, who is accused of crimes against humanity and of violating the laws and customs of war, is the first serving politician to be indicted by the ICTY since the ex-Yugoslav president, Slobodan Milosevic. A former commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), Haradinaj was elected by parliament on 3 December to serve in the UN-administered province. On 8 March, he resigned, preferring to face the UN court "as a common citizen".