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Serbia seeks extradition from France of Kosovo ex-premier

Associated Press logo Associated Press 10/01/2017

BELGRADE, Serbia — Serbia has formally requested the extradition of a former Kosovo prime minister from France to face war crimes charges after his arrest there on a Belgrade warrant.

Ramush Haradinaj, a former guerrilla fighter in Kosovo's 1998-1999 war for independence from Serbia, was detained last week at Basel Mulhouse Freiburg airport.

A French court has ruled that Haradinaj should stay in custody until it decides whether to turn him over to Serbian officials.

Haradinaj was cleared of war crimes charges in two trials by a U.N. war crimes tribunal. But Serbia accuses him of committing war crimes including kidnappings, torture and killings against Serb civilians when he was a senior rebel commander in western Kosovo.

Kosovo's Parliament also held an 11-hour debate on Tuesday on a resolution seeking Haradinaj's "unconditional release." The two opposing political groups failed to reach consensus on the final language.

The governing majority of Prime Minister Isa Mustafa and Parliament Speaker Kadri Veseli did not agree with the draft proposed by the opposition, including Haradinaj's Alliance for Kosovo's Future party.

The opposition language sought an interruption of Kosovo's European Union-brokered dialogue with Serbia, which is aimed at normalizing relations between the two countries.

Tensions between Serbia and its former province of Kosovo have soared since the arrest. Kosovo declared independence in 2008, which Serbia has not recognized.

Kosovo lawmakers also called on the European Union Tuesday to directly intervene to secure Haradinaj's freedom and called on France to release him.

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