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Serbia asks France to extradite former Kosovo prime minister

A protest by Kosovo Albanians in front of the French Embassy in Pristina after Kosovo's former prime minister Ramush Haradinaj was arrested in France last week Armend NIMANI / AFP

Serbia on Tuesday officially requested the extradition from France of Kosovo's former prime minister Ramush Haradinaj, whose arrest last week for alleged war crimes in France.

The politician's arrest on January 4 was made under an international arrest warrant issued by Serbia's judiciary in 2004.

"We sent the request together with the necessary documentation translated into French," an official from the Serbian ministry of justice, declining to be named, told AFP.

Belgrade accuses Haradinaj of war crimes against civilians in the late 1990s, when he led ethnic Albanian insurgents fighting Serbian forces for Kosovo's independence.

Haradinaj was already twice tried and acquitted of war crimes at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague.

He was arrested in France as he arrived at the Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg airport, located near the Swiss and German borders.

Kosovo's Prime Minister Isa Mustafa said Friday that such arrest warrants from Serbia were "completely illegal and unjust" with the consequence of "provoking tensions and conflicts, and damaging the European (integration) process in the region".

Some 13,000 people were killed in the 1998-1999 war in Kosovo, a former province of Serbia that is largely ethnic Albanian.

In 2008 Kosovo unilaterally declared independence but its sovereignty is not recognised by Belgrade or Moscow.
Haradinaj was briefly premier in 2004-2005 and now leads an opposition political party.

He is due to appear before a French court on Thursday after requesting bail, according to a French judicial source.