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Kosovar Premier Resigns Over War Crimes Charges

Ramush Haradinaj (file photo) 8 March 2005 -- Kosovo's Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj resigned today after disclosure that a UN court has indicted him on war crimes charges.

Speaking after an emergency cabinet session, Haradinaj said he is innocent. He said he will fly to The Hague to face the charges and is confident that he will return after what he called "a little break."

Florence Hartmann, a spokesman for the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY), told RFE/RL by phone today: "The office of the prosecutor can confirm today that Ramush Haradinaj has been indicted by the ICTY. The charges against him are still under seal, and the indictment will be published, probably, when he is transferred to the Hague in the next days."

Serbian courts independently have charged Haradinaj with more than 100 criminal counts, including terrorism, murder, and rape.

Haradinaj was a top commander in the Kosovo Albanian guerrilla army during the 1998-99 conflict in Kosovo. Open ethnic conflict in the region ended when NATO bombed Serbia into accepting UN administration and an international peacekeeping mission in June 1999. Haradinaj entered politics in 2001 with his Alliance for the Future of Kosovo. He became prime minister of a coalition cabinet last December.

Meanwhile, NATO officials say that the United Nations raised its threat level and NATO sent extra troops to Kosovo in case of ethnic unrest following the resignation.


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