Kosovo developments - British Bn sent

Kosovo PM charged with war crimes
Tue Mar 8, 2005 11:35 AM GMT

By Matt Robinson and Shaban Buza

PRISTINA, Serbia and Montenegro (Reuters) - Kosovo's ethnic Albanian prime minister has been charged with war crimes by the United Nations tribunal and will resign his post to answer accusations in The Hague, a senior government source says.

Rumours that Ramush Haradinaj was about to be charged by Hague chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte had circulated since before he became prime minister last December, raising fears of violence if NATO peacekeepers were forced to arrest him.

"Yes, the Prime Minister has been informed he has an indictment," a senior official in the Kosovo government told Reuters on Tuesday. "We have to face it.

"He has informed the President (Ibrahim Rugova). He will resign today...and will fly to the Hague tomorrow."

A year ago, mobs of ethnic Albanians attacked Serb enclaves in the United Nations-run province in two days of rioting which left 19 people dead and hundreds of homes in ashes.

Haradinaj had made clear he would not defy the tribunal.

But peacekeepers were taking no chances. Germany flew in extra soldiers to bolster its peacekeeping contingent in the NATO-led KFOR mission, and Britain deployed an extra 500 troops on Monday after an urgent request from NATO, a KFOR spokesman said.

The force currently numbers nearly 20,000.

The United Nations mission in Kosovo, UNMIK, on Monday raised its security threat assessment to "black" in western Kosovo, ordering non-essential staff to stay off the streets.


Details of the indictement against Haradinaj have not been made public. The U.N. court has investigated him over his role in the 1998-99 guerrilla war against Serb forces and the alleged murder of Kosovo Serb civilians and Albanian "collaborators".

Haradinaj, 36, spent much of the 1990s as an economic migrant in France, Switzerland, Sweden and Finland, drifting between jobs as a construction worker and nightclub bouncer.

He returned to Kosovo in early 1998 to command the western wing of the Kosovo Liberation Army, helping to mount what was to become a full-scale insurgency against Serb oppression and earning a reputation for ruthlessness.

Two of Haradinaj's brothers were killed fighting Serb security forces and a third was found guilty of war crimes against Serbs in 2002.

Haradinaj's political party, the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) was the smaller of two parties to emerge from the ranks of the KLA.

He entered Kosovo's first interim government in February 2002 in a coalition with former guerrilla commander Hashim Thaci and veteran pacifist president Rugova, who leads Kosovo's largest political party.

In October 2004 elections, his AAK won nine seats in Kosovo's 120-seat parliament. Haradinaj later announced an surprise coalition deal with President Rugova, becoming prime minister in December 2004 and confining Thaci to the opposition.
Source: http://today.reuters.co.uk/news/new...RUKOC_0_SERBIAMONTENEGRO-KOSOVO-HARADINAJ.xml
Tue 8 Mar 2005

Extra British Troops Sent to Kosovo

A British army battalion has been send to Kosovo after the UN mission in the Serb province raised its security threat level to Stage Black.

Colonel Yves de Kermabon, spokesman for the Nato-led peacekeepers in Kosovo, said 500 additional British troops have arrived in Kosovo since yesterday.

The UN advised it nonessential staff to remain at home in western Kosovo due to an ongoing police operation, an official said today.

The UN mission in Kosovo elevated its security threat level around the western Kosovo town of Pec, said the UN’s spokesman in Kosovo, Hua Jiang. Stage Black means only essential staff have to report for duty, she said.

“It is because of an ongoing police operation,” Jiang said, but would not elaborate.

Western Kosovo is the home of the province’s Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, who was questioned late last year by the UN war crimes investigators for his role in Kosovo’s 1998-1999 war. He served as a commander of the ethnic Albanian rebel force, Kosovo Liberation Army, in the west of the province.

Nato headquarters decided to send the British battalion after assessing the security situation in the province, Kermabon said.

Kosovo, which officially remains part of Serbia, has been administered by the UN and Nato since 1999, following the alliance’s war aimed at halting a crackdown by Serb troops on ethnic Albanian rebels.

The chief UN war crimes prosecutor has said on several occasions that former senior ethnic Albanian rebels are being investigated over whether they committed war crimes in their fight against Serb forces. No war crimes indictments have been filed against them yet by the court, which is based in The Hague, Netherlands.
Source: PA News via Scotsman: http://news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=4225360
Indeed, DL

Some background from a Guardian article in early Jan 05, which I posted at the time in another thread. Since then there has been time to prepare things (and Mr Haradinaj himself) as much as possible. But for that, it might have been better to initiate this at the coldest point of the winter. Weather reportedly below freezing today, but will be 'warmer' by Saturday.

War crimes indictment could push teetering Kosovo to edge

Simon Tisdall
Wednesday January 5, 2005
The Guardian

The possibly imminent indictment for war crimes of Kosovo's prime minister, Ramush Haradinaj, threatens to provoke a new crisis in the breakaway Serbian province that was invaded by British and other forces in 1999 and remains under uneasy UN and Nato control.
Mr Haradinaj, who took office last month, is a former commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army. The Serbian government accuses him of complicity in atrocities committed in the Decani region of western Kosovo in 1998-99. Belgrade has issued an arrest warrant and is refusing to deal with Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority leadership while he remains in power.

The chief prosecutor of the international criminal tribunal for former Yugoslavia, Carla Del Ponte, also has her eye on Mr Haradinaj. He was interviewed by war crimes investigators late last year. He has dismissed all the accusations as Serb lies. Now Ms Del Ponte's tribunal is about to make a decision. Its final list of indictments, possibly issued under seal, is expected this weekend.

If Mr Haradinaj is suddenly charged and carted off to The Hague the reaction in Kosovo could be explosive. If action against him is shelved because of his prominent position, analysts say that already grudging Serbian cooperation with the tribunal may be seriously jeopardised.

The situation in Kosovo five years after the former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic's troops were sent packing remains deeply problematic without such complications. A decision is due this year on its final status: as a part of Serbia, as now, or as an independent state, as most ethnic Albanians want.

But as the UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, noted last month, security problems and the political stalemate between Albanians and what remains of the ethnic Serb minority (an estimated 200,000 have fled since 1999) continue to obstruct economic development, democratic institution-building, and power sharing. In short, the province is as divided as ever.

Mr Annan warned that "sustained action" by the international community was essential if a recurrence of last March's violence was to be prevented. Then, 19 people died, nearly 1,000 were injured and hundreds of homes and cultural sites were burned by Albanian extremists intent on driving out the Serb, Roma and Ashkali communities.

This renewed bout of "ethnic cleansing", the reverse of that suffered on a larger scale by the Albanian population in 1999 and which led to the international intervention, occurred under the noses of nearly 20,000 Nato peacekeepers and the UN.

The deputy head of the UN mission, Larry Rossin, has accused Serbia of discouraging Kosovo's Serbs from cooperating in the province's collective rehabilitation. Others suspect the Belgrade government of the prime minister, Vojislav Kostunica, of seeking Kosovo's partition along ethnic lines - and of being ready to countenance more hardline violence to attain that end.

Belgrade encouraged the Serb boycott of last October's elections, a factor that contributed to Mr Haradinaj's ascent. Now Serbia's representative, Neboja Covic, says that "the Serb community cannot join the Kosovo institutions as long as Ramush Haradinaj is the head of government".

A symbolic reminder of how potentially dangerous Kosovo's unfinished business still is came this week when gunmen in Zubin Potok, north of Pristina, shot up two unmanned UN vehicles. If Kosovo blows up again it is feared that Albanians in Macedonia, parallel efforts to build a multi-ethnic state in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Serbia itself could be caught in the blast.

Despite so many worrying portents, Erhard Busek, the special coordinator of the post-1999 EU-backed stability pact charged with promoting democracy and development in the Balkans, says clear ideas about what to do in Kosovo are lamentably lacking.

"There does not seem to be a substantial political debate on Kosovo's future status. Nobody in the international community seems willing to move first," Mr Busek said at Chatham House in London last month.

Mr Busek warned that the Kosovo conundrum reflected a broader problem of EU and international neglect. "We cannot afford to lose the Balkans again."
Latest from Guardian website: http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-4849315,00.html

I am pleased to see that Mr Haradinaj, given his position as Prime Minister and the fact that he has always made it clear that he would surrender to any ICTY indictment, has been allowed to announce this himself to the media. According to the Guardian report, he has resigned as PM and will voluntarily give himself to the ICTY authorities in Holland tomorrow.

Per my previous comment, this has every sign of having been carefully prepared. After the deadly and destructive riots of last April, it would have been madness not to.
they always kick off when it's warmer. ie last year, the feb 200 riots/car bombings/RPG attacks

a shame they're so willing to kill/be killed for a plot of land which is, undeniably HORRIBLE (at least pristina is/was). A family friend was back there in 2003, and I asked him if it had gotten any better since 2000 (when I was there). The answer? no. everythings the same. power/water intermittent, stray dogs, burning wheelie bins etc etc.

what a dump. my condolences to 1 RGJ :)
The problem with Kosovo is that we once again jumped in feet first into a conflict that we did not understand and got it all wrong.

It is about time that the IC got stuck into the Albanians. From what I saw of what was going on they were getting away with murder and the world looked away. Never forget a Channel 4 Documentary after the war where all the KLA hoods were interviewed and said that they deliberately orchastrated situations to force the Serbs hands, then telling their own people to flee - we walked into a typical ambush for suckers!

Good luck to the Chosen Men of 1 RGJ. Remember to carry your respirators and learn the lessons from 2 RGJ in Mitrovica (who didn't - not pleasant when there is CS flying about!) :evil:
cdn_spr said:
they always kick off when it's warmer. ie last year, the feb 200 riots/car bombings/RPG attacks
That's why I looked at the 5-day weather forecast, see earlier in the thread. The hope seems to be that this time, demonstrations will be on a scale which can be handled and has been prepared for, in contrast to last year's embarrassing performance by some national contingents. Hopefully the message has already got out in the majority community that any repeat of last year's violence, destruction, and ethnic cleansing will do their cause no good. Those minded to cause trouble may, however, feel that there are never any major consequences to their actions.

To be fair, the majority of previous demonstrations over arrests/indictments of ex-KLA figures have been peaceful, and apart from last April there have been relatively few examples of serious civil disturbance outwith Mitrovica.

cdn_spr said:
a shame they're so willing to kill/be killed for a plot of land which is, undeniably HORRIBLE (at least pristina is/was). A family friend was back there in 2003, and I asked him if it had gotten any better since 2000 (when I was there). The answer? no. everythings the same. power/water intermittent, stray dogs, burning wheelie bins etc etc.

what a dump. my condolences to 1 RGJ :)
I might have added "pity cdn_spr you didn't have the chance to see the beautiful old part of Prizren" - except for the appalling damage caused there in last year's riots. Great move.

Good luck to 1RGJ.
One of my oppo's has gone out there - with 1 RGR I'm led to believe NOT 1 RGJ! Could the whole thing be part of the B Liars' and TCH big scheme to get reelected? "Bringing peace and democracy to the Balkans with our brave troops", and then stabbing them in the back after the election? Just wondering that's all :roll:
Now they are away... it seems to be the norm to shaft the inf while on opps... probably sell of their bks for "new chav homes"... wonder why it's been kept so dark up to now???

Come on Tony... say "sorry" again for us!
Things seem to have been fairly quiet in Kosovo since Mr Haradinaj's resignation as Prime Minister and his departure to the Hague, the main reported incident being a probable grenade explosion outside the UNMIK compound in Pristina, injuring one person, but this has now been reported:
Kosovo President Unhurt as Blast Rocks Convoy

Mar 15, 2005 — By Matt Robinson and Shaban Buza

PRISTINA, Serbia and Montenegro (Reuters) - President Ibrahim Rugova escaped unhurt on Tuesday when a blast rocked his car, raising tension in Kosovo a week after its guerrilla-hero premier quit to face war crimes charges. A police source said the explosion in a garbage container was detonated remotely. The armored rear window of the Kosovo Albanian leader's vehicle was shattered but not pierced.

A senior NATO source said the blast was likely a warning.

"Whoever committed this was either stupid, in not thinking he'd be in an armored car, or has done it to show there could be a next time, and the blast could be stronger," he said.

There was no immediate clue as to who may have planted the device or why, and no claim of responsibility. Speculation focused on political rivalries between former guerrillas...
full story at http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=582300

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