Croatian Albanian MP addresses Croatian MEPs over Haradinaj arrest

Ermina Lekaj Prljaskaj, a member of the Croatian Parliament who represents five ethnic minorities, including the Albanian minority, on Wednesday asked Croatian members of the European Parliament to use their political influence to make their colleagues aware of the repeated arrest of Kosovo politician and former prime minister Ramush Haradinaj, who is wanted by Serbia on charges of war crimes.

"Since Kosovo is still not an EU member and does not have its representatives in the European Parliament, I am asking you to use your political influence to make your colleagues aware of this specific case which reopens the issue of encroachment of Serbia's judiciary and its policies on neighbouring countries' internal affairs and consequently negates the sovereignty of both Croatia and Kosovo," Lekaj Prljaskaj said in a statement released by the Croatian parliament's media service.

Lekaj Prljaskaj supported additional efforts in Serbia's EU membership talks, specifically those referring to the policy area Judiciary and Fundamental Rights, to help resolve the issue of the so-called regional jurisdiction of the Serbian judiciary, which she said, was evidenced by Haradinaj's arrest, which comes after a series of arrests of Croatian nationals.

Haradinaj served as a commander in the Kosovo Liberation Army during the 1998-99 Kosovo war and was accused of war crimes against Serb civilians in the Decani district in 1998, but was acquitted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague.

Serbia issued a warrant for his arrest on the suspicion that in 1998 and 1999 he committed crimes against civilians in Kosovo that were not covered by the ICTY indictment.

During the trial before the ICTY, which resulted in his acquittal and the acquittal of two other defendants, several witnesses for the prosecution were killed or died in Kosovo and abroad under circumstances that remain unclear.

Last Thursday, Kosovo asked the European Union to press the candidate country Serbia to drop arrest warrants against former Kosovo fighters, including the warrant for Haradinaj's arrest.

Serbia on Tuesday sent an official request to France to hand over Haradinaj, arrested by French border police on 4 January on his arrival at Basel-Mulhouse on a flight from Pristina.

The Serbian Justice Ministry on Tuesday stated that it had sent the request and the necessary documentation corroborating Serbia's allegations to Paris.

The Serbian Foreign Ministry has asked diplomats of several European countries to see to it that their governments step up the protection of Serbian embassies and diplomatic staff in their countries, following reports about possible attacks by Albanian extremists following Haradinaj's arrest, Belgrade newspapers reported on Wednesday.

The request was sent to representatives of Switzerland, Greece, Turkey, Germany, Italy and Belgium, where, according to intelligence reports, attacks on Serbian diplomatic offices could be launched following a series of protests by Albanian expatriates against Haradinaj's arrest.

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said earlier that the request was based on intelligence information "provided by the security services of a Western country."

Last update: Wed, 11/01/2017 - 15:36

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