Sunday, April 17, 2005

Kosovo ex-PM among thousands at brother's funeral.

GLODJAN, Serbia and Montenegro, April 17 (Reuters) - Former Kosovo prime minister Ramush Haradinaj, on temporary release from the U.N. war crimes tribunal, joined some 20,000 ethnic Albanians at the funeral of his brother on Sunday.

Enver Haradinaj, a 24-year-old student and former guerrilla, was shot dead on Friday in what a source within the NATO-led peace force in the province said was an apparent clan dispute.

Ramush Haradinaj, who resigned in March to face war crimes charges in The Hague, was released to attend the funeral in his hometown of Glodjan, 90 kilometres west of the capital Pristina.

Enver Haradinaj was buried between the graves of two other Haradinaj brothers, who were killed in fighting during an ethnic Albanian separatist insurgency in the late 1990s.

The rain-drenched crowd applauded as Ramush Haradinaj, the 36-year-old former guerrilla commander, stood to speak.

"His death was unexpected. But my message is as it was before: to support the processes underway in Kosovo, to continue to work and to build Kosovo" he said, echoing an appeal for calm before his departure in March that won him international praise.

The province of 2 million people became a U.N. protectorate in 1999 when NATO bombing drove out Serb forces accused of atrocities against Albanian civilians as they fought to crush the rebels.

The West plans to open talks late this year on whether Kosovo becomes independent - as the 90-percent Albanian majority demands - or remains formally part of Serbia.

Haradinaj arrived five minutes before Sunday's ceremony began, released on condition he did not try to contact potential prosecution witnesses or talk to the media.

He is charged with crimes against Serb civilians and Albanian "collaborators" during the war.

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