French appeals court refuses extradition of ex-Kosovo PM Haradinaj

AAK Haradinaj speaks during interview with Reuters at the AAK headquarters in Pristina

Authorities had detained him as he flew into France on January 4 following a request from Serbia, which wants to put him on trial over his role in leading the insurgency in its former southern province of Kosovo.

Parties to the case have five days to appeal.

Haradinaj was detained by French authorities on January 4, and the Colmar court the next day ordered him to remain in custody.

The court reasoned its decision on the grounds that Haradinaj would not receive a fair and balanced trial in Serbia, The Associated Press quotes his lawyer Rachel Lindon as saying.

"Of course this judicial decision allows me to pursue my duties, but I still lost four months." the charges Serbia alleges that Haradinaj is guilty of war crimes dating back to his role as a guerilla commander during the 1998-99 Kosovo war.




Serbia called an immediate cabinet meeting to discuss the court's decision, which can not be appealed. She said it is unclear whether he will stay in France.

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci said in a Facebook post that the French court's decision was "good news". "Once again, it has been confirmed that the Kosovo Liberation Army was not guilty of anything, and this is just a confirmation of Kosovo's justified fight". A French court has refused to extradite Haradinaj to Serbia to face war crimes charges.

Predominantly ethnic-Albanian Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008.

"I am pointing out to you - as a man who has on several occasions proved his friendship to you - to the consequences of such an obviously political decision of a court in France, which has caused a huge injustice to Serbia, a great friend of France - to which, at this time and unfortunately, we are tied only by the glorious history of our grandparents and our parents", Nikolic said.

He has been tried and acquitted twice at the United Nations tribunal at The Hague, although Serbia said it had further evidence involving civilian murders which it was asked to hand to the French court. He has already been tried and acquitted, twice, of war crimes by the United National International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

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