The former prime minister of Kosovo, Ramush Haradinaj, has been once again acquitted of crimes against humanity. The retrial the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague backed up the court's original 2008 verdict.
Judges at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague ruled on Thursday that Haradinaj and two accomplices were not guilty of charges that they had murdered and tortured Serbs in the 1998-1999 war as members of the Kosovo Liberation Army.
"On the contrary, the evidence establishes that, when he heard about the mistreatment of individuals, Haradinaj said no such thing should happen because this is damaging of our cause," said Bakone Justice Moloto, the presiding judge in the case.
Haradinaj (pictured above), Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimija had been acquitted of the charges at a previous trial in 2008. But that ruling was deemed invalid because of reports of witness intimidation.
While the decision was welcomed in Kosovo, where crowds cheered as fireworks went off overhead in the capital, Pristina, Serbians were disappointed by the decision.
Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic said in a statement that the verdict proved the UN war crimes tribunal had only been "formed to try the Serbian people."
He added that the decision "annuls previous efforts toward the normalization" of relations between Serbia and Kosovo. Serbia does not, like much of the rest of the international community, recognize Kosovo's sovereignty. Kosovo broke away from Serbia in 2008.
mz/ipj (Reuters, AP, dpa)