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UN Court Orders Retrial Of Former Kosovo Prime Minister

Ramush Haradinaj, the leader of the opposition party Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, in October 2009
The UN's Yugoslav war crimes tribunal has overturned the acquittal of former Kosovo prime minister Ramush Haradinaj of war crimes charges and ordered that he be retried.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia said the original trial of Haradinaj, the former leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army, and two other former KLA commanders, was marred by witness intimidation.

Haradinaj was acquitted two years ago of numerous charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity -- including murder, rape and torture -- allegedly committed against Serbs and political opponents in 1998 as Kosovo battled for independence from Serbia. Prosecutors appealed his acquittal.

Judges originally threw out the charges for lack of evidence, but presiding judge Patrick Robinson today said the trial chamber "failed to appreciate the gravity" of the witness intimidation.

The ICTY ordered that Haradinaj be retried along with his two co-accused, former KLA commanders Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj. Balaj had also been acquitted in 2008, while Brahimaj was sentenced to six years in prison for torture.

No date was immediately set for the retrial. The accused were ordered held in custody.

compiled from agency reports