Sunday, March 13, 2005

British Lawyer to Defend Kosovo PM in War Crimes Trial

A British human rights lawyer will lead the defence of Kosovo’s former prime minister Ramush Haradinaj at the UN war crimes court, his legal team said today.

Ben Emmerson QC will be supported by Conor Gearty, a professor of human rights law at the London School of Economics, a statement issued by the team’s co-ordinator said.
Haradinaj surrendered to the UN tribunal in The Hague on Wednesday after being indicted on 37 counts of war crimes.

A former commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army, Haradinaj was accused of responsibility for the rape, murder and torture of Serb and Roma civilians by Albanian separatists during the province’s 1998-1999 war.

“The legal team has now studied the indictment in detail,” legal team co-ordinator Michael O’Reilly said in the statement.

“We are very confident that Ramush Haradinaj will be acquitted on all charges.”

Rodney Dixon, a lawyer based in The Hague, will represent the defence in formal and procedural matters, O’Reilly said.

Haradinaj surrendered to the UN court a day after resigning as prime minister of Kosovo, a province which is still officially a part of Serbia-Montenegro, although it is run by the United Nations.

He is the highest-ranking Kosovo Albanian to be indicted by the tribunal and his lawsuit is one of the most high-profile cases since the trial of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

Emmerson is a member of Matrix Chambers in London, which also includes Tony Blair’s wife Cherie.

Last week he acted for several of the foreign terrorist suspects detained without trial in the UK when they were finally granted bail.

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