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Ex -Kosovo premier freed pending French extradition decision

Associated Press logo Associated Press 12/01/2017
Former prime minister of Kosovo Ramush Haradinaj, center, leaves the court escorted by hooded police officers in Colmar, eastern France, Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017. A French court has ordered the release of a jailed former prime minister of Kosovo pending a decision on whether to extradite him to Serbia, where he's wanted on war crimes charges. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias) © The Associated Press Former prime minister of Kosovo Ramush Haradinaj, center, leaves the court escorted by hooded police officers in Colmar, eastern France, Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017. A French court has ordered the release of a jailed former prime minister of Kosovo pending a decision on whether to extradite him to Serbia, where he's wanted on war crimes charges. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)

PARIS — A French court has ordered the release of a jailed former prime minister of Kosovo pending a decision on whether to extradite him to Serbia, where he's wanted on war crimes charges.

Overturning an earlier decision, the court in the eastern French city of Colmar said in a statement Thursday that Ramush Haradinaj can leave the jail but must stay in France under judicial supervision while his case is being studied.

Serbia's government formally requested his extradition after French police detained Haradinaj last week at Basel Mulhouse Frieburg airport. The arrest has angered Kosovo, where lawmakers called on the European Union to intervene to secure his release.

Haradinaj, a former guerrilla fighter in Kosovo's 1998-1999 war for independence from Serbia, was cleared of war crimes charges by a U.N. tribunal.

Kosovo's government said it considered Haradinaj's release on bail as only "one step" forward. It urged French judicial authorities free him, saying his arrest has created tensions between Serbia and its former province.

A Kosovo Cabinet statement declared Serbia's arrest warrants "fully illegal, unfair and with clear tendencies to create tension and conflicts."

Pristina said the Serb warrants were not valid as they were issued in 2004 when Serbia and Montenegro were one state, and added that Serbia does not enjoy jurisdiction on all countries or provinces that were once part of the former Yugoslavia.

France and most European countries recognized Kosovo's independence after it seceded from Serbia in 2008, but Serbia has not.

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