Belgrade: Acquittal of Kosovo Guerrilla Haradinaj is Scandalous
The Hague Tribunal's acquittal of former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) leader Ramush Haradinaj stirred frustration among Serbian leaders with PM Vojislav Kostunica calling it a "dark decision."
"This decision of the Hague Tribunal represents a mockery of justice and a mockery of the innocent victims who suffered at the hands of Haradinaj," Kostunica declared in a statement as cited by B92 news agency.
"Such a verdict would not see justice done and it would not encourage Serbs and other non-Albanians to expect a safe and peaceful life in Kosovo", President Boris Tadic said.
Tadic also reminded that former Chief Hague Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte told him that prosecution witnesses in the case were intimidated and even murdered, in order to keep silent about Haradinaj's crimes committed in Kosovo in 1998.
"Today's verdict of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague shows that it is high time that this tribunal closes down," Serbian War Crimes Prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic commented.
Cheering crowds set off fireworks in Pristina on Thursday after the Tribunal acquitted Hardinaj over charges of crimes against humanity. Haradinaj was accused of leading ethnic cleansing against Serbs and Roma, as allegations included participation in the murder of 30 civilians whose bodies were retrieved from a lake.
The former nightclub bouncer turned guerrilla leader and briefly Prime Minister in 2004-05, is expected to receive hero's welcome and a leading political role in the new country of Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in February.
Haradinaj said in statement that he would dedicate the rest of his life to creating a free and fair society for people of all ethnic backgrounds in Kosovo.