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Russia slams acquittal of Kosovo war crime rebel as biased

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Russia's Foreign Ministry denounced a ruling by a court at The Hague last week which saw a former prime minister in Pristina acquitted for crimes committed in Kosovo in 1998-1999.
MOSCOW, April 7 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Foreign Ministry denounced a ruling by a court at The Hague last week which saw a former prime minister in Pristina acquitted for crimes committed in Kosovo in 1998-1999.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTFY) found Ramush Haradinaj, 39, a former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) guerilla leader, accused of organizing the rape, murder and intimidation of thousands of Serbs and Roma 'not guilty' on April 3.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in an official statement on Monday that the verdict "questions the impartibility and objectiveness of the International Criminal Tribunal" and accused the court of "double standards" in their treatment of conflicts in the former Yugoslavia.

Although the trial judges said that Haradinaj had killed and tortured, they said there was insufficient evidence to indict him.

The trial has been surrounded by controversy with allegations of witness intimidation. The prosecution's main witness was shot during the investigation and another person, due to give testimony, died in a car accident just before the trial started.

According to claims made in a book "The Hunt: Me and War Criminals" written by Carla del Ponte, the ex-chief war crimes prosecutor, claims that Haradinaj was involved in the sale of organs, taken from prisoners executed in Kosovo.

She alleges that there was sufficient evidence for prosecution of Kosovo Albanians involved in war crimes, but it "was nipped in the bud" focusing on "the crimes committed by Serbia."

The claims have caused a storm in Serbia and among the international community. The president of the Association of Families of Kidnapped and Missing Serbs in Kosovo, Simo Spasic, said he wanted to sue Carla del Ponte for "concealing the crimes."

Meanwhile, Nebojsa Covic, who used to head the Coordinating Center for Kosovo, was cited by the b92.net portal as saying: "Serbia never got any response to this evidence, and it is therefore good that Del Ponte wrote it in her book, as it is never too late to shed light on crimes."

The former Kosovar leader surrendered to the criminal tribunal voluntarily in March 2005. He was indicted on 37 charges and released three months later. He continued his political activities and vehemently denied all charges against him.

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