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Serbia Threatens Retaliation If France Doesn't Hand Over Ex-Kosovo Leader

Former Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj leaves prison in France.
Former Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj leaves prison in France.

Serbia on January 13 said it would refuse to extradite people sought by France if French authorities failed to hand over a former Kosovo prime minister and guerrilla commander who Belgrade is charging with war crimes.

French police detained Ramush Haradinaj on January 4, acting on a warrant from Serbia which wants to try him for offenses related to the 1998-1999 war in its former province of Kosovo.

But a French appeals court released Haradinaj this week and ordered him to remain in France while it reviews Serbia's extradition request.

Kosovo maintains that Haradinaj was tried and acquitted of war crimes by United Nations tribunals In 2005 and 2007.

Serbian Justice Minister Nela Kuburovic warned Belgrade would hit back if France does not grant its request.

"If someone convicted or indicted for savage killings, torture, and rape is not extradited to Serbia, we will do the same for requests filed by France," Kuburovic said. "France should honor international treaties [on extradition] that it signed."

He said prosecutors in Belgrade handed over all evidence to the authorities in France of Haradinaj's alleged killings, torture and abductions of Serbs, ethnic Albanians, and minority Roma people both during and after the war.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters