Kosovo war crimes witness arrested - UN tribunal

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AMSTERDAM, Nov 10 (Reuters) A witness in the UN war crimes trial of Kosovo's former prime minister was arrested for failing to appear in court, the tribunal said.

The court issued an arrest warrant for Kosovo Albanian Avni Krasniqi after he ignored an order to appear on October 29 at the trial of Ramush Haradinaj, who has been indicted for murder, rape and torture alleged to have been committed by his forces.

Krasniqi, who is now in contempt of court, will appear before the UN war crimes tribunal for former Yugoslavia on Monday to face charges of failing to appear at the trial.

A tribunal spokeswoman declined to say where he was arrested or by whom, citing security reasons, yesterday.

Haradinaj, Kosovo's prime minister from 2004 to 2005 and a Kosovo Albanian, went on trial at the UN war crimes tribunal for former Yugoslavia in March on charges related to his time as a Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) leader in the war against Serb forces between 1998-99.

The tribunal said that throughout Haradinaj's trial, the prosecution had complained of witness intimidation, leading some to refuse to testify.

Considered a hero by many Kosovo Albanians, Haradinaj is the most senior former KLA guerrilla to be indicted over the war and the first serving head of government to be indicted since former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. Haradinaj resigned after his indictment in 2005.

Kosovo, whose 2-million-population is 90 per cent Albanian, was the cause of NATO's first ''humanitarian'' war in 1999 to remove Serb forces who killed 10,000 Albanians and drove out almost 1 million in a two-year conflict with the KLA.

The province has been run by the United Nations ever since, and individuals on both sides of the conflict have been indicted by the UN tribunal.

Reuters SBA VP0430

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