Serbs frustrated, Kosovars elated as former Kosovo PM acquitted of war crimes
Reuters reports that the acquittal was met with cheers in the courtroom and fireworks in Kosovo, where Haradinaj is considered a hero and served as prime minister for several months in 2005 before being charged by the ICTY, prompting him to step down to deal with the court case. Reuters notes that many in Kosovo expect him to reenter the government as part of Kosovar Prime Minister Hashim Thaci's coalition. Mr. Thaci, who called the verdict "the strongest evidence that the Kosovo Liberation Army fought a just war for freedom and never committed the crimes of which we were unfairly accused," is, like Haradinaj, a former Kosovar military commander.
The Serbian media and officials quickly condemned the ruling. A government spokesman told AFP that the ruling "legalized Mafia rule in Kosovo," while Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic slammed the acquittal as unjust and political in a statement, reports Serbian radio station B92.
“Unfortunately, expectations that the Hague Tribunal will release Ramush Haradinaj, who was accused of murder, cruel treatment, inhuman actions against non-Albanian, Serb and Roma civilians in the camp of the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in Jablanica in 1998 and violation of law and customs of war, have come true,” reads Nikolić’s statement.
“The latest decision of the Tribunal is not based on the law and justice – the main postulates on which the international court should be based. The Tribunal was apparently founded contrary to the international law and it was founded to try the Serbian people. They want to achieve certain goals that the Serbian public is well aware of,” the president stressed.