Pristina, 24 December 2007 – The Minister of Culture and Sports in Kosovo’s outgoing government, is to be questioned by the Hague Tribunal early next year over allegations that he put pressure on witnesses in a major war crimes case.
Astrit Haraqija was quoted in Monday’s Express daily as confirming that he would be going to The Hague where he is expected to be questioned on January 10.
The allegations against Haracija relate to the case of former Kosovar Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj who is on trial, with two co-accused, before the Hague war crimes Tribunal.
“I have done nothing illegal, nor commit any act, such as putting pressure on witnesses” Haraqija was quoted in Express.
According to the daily, Haraqija had several secret meetings with one-time guerilla fighters of the former Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, who were likely to be questioned as witnesses in the Haradinaj case.
Haracija has reportedly asked potential witnesses to withdraw their allegations against Haradinaj who is being tried for alleged atrocities against Kosovo Serbs as well as ethnic Albanians and Roma who were considered to be collaborating with the Serb authorities during the war of 1998-99.
Haradinaj was a regional KLA Commander for western Kosovo during the war.
Afterwards he formed his own party, the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, which joined Kosovo’s post-war coalition governments as a junior partner.
He served as prime minister for three months, but resigned in March 2005 after he was indicted by the Hague Tribunal.
Haradinaj has been granted two week’s provisional release for the festive season, and is due to return to The Hague on January 4.
Haraqija is a member of the main party in the outgoing coalition, the Democratic League of Kosovo.
A new government is about to be formed following November’s elections which were won by the Democratic Party of Kosovo.