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Archive for Monday, March 5, 2007

Former leader’s war crimes trial to start

March 5, 2007

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— Ramush Haradinaj, who was once a nightclub bouncer and martial arts expert and rose to become a guerrilla chieftain and Kosovo's prime minister, faces trial in which he is accused of mounting an ethnic cleansing campaign against Serbs.

His future will be decided by a panel of U.N. judges in the war crimes trial opening today in which he and two others are accused. They are pleading innocent, and many Kosovars believe it is their struggle against Serbian rule that is on trial.

Haradinaj flew to the Netherlands a week ago and was put in a cell in the Hague court's detention unit, where co-defendants Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj have been held since 2005. Hundreds of supporters saw him off, and Prime Minister Agim Ceku backed him in a radio address.

"He is going to the Hague not only to defend himself, but to defend our war for freedom," Ceku said. "We're convinced that truth and justice are on Ramush's side."

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