A UN war crimes tribunal today acquitted Kosovo's former prime minister for the second time of murdering and torturing Serbs as a rebel commander in Kosovo's 1998-1999 war for independence, setting the stage for Ramush Haradinaj's return to political life in the deeply divided nation. The verdict was issued in the UN court's first ever retrial, which was ordered after appeals judges branded the 2008 acquittal of Haradinaj a "miscarriage of justice" because of widespread intimidation of prosecution witnesses.
The acquittal heralds a political renaissance for Haradinaj, seen by the West before his 2005 indictment as a unifying force in Kosovo, but could complicate talks between Kosovo and Serbia on Kosovo's future. "With the consent of the people, he will soon be resuming his rightful position as the political leader of the country," his lawyer told reporters. Supporters celebrated in the Kosovo capital of Pristina, but Serbia's president said that the verdict dealt "a blow to efforts at establishing peace in the region."