Kosovo PM resigns before questioning by a Hague-based court

Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj center visits the German KFOR military base in Prizren. Kosovo’s prime minister has resigned from the post after he has been invited to be questioned from a Europea

Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj center visits the German KFOR military base in Prizren. Kosovo’s prime minister has resigned from the post after he has been invited to be questioned from a Europea

Kosovo's prime minister resigned Friday after being invited for questioning by a Hague-based court investigating crimes against ethnic Serbs during and after the country's 1998-99 war.

Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj told a press conference in Pristina on Friday that he will not remain at his post because he can not be a head of government and a suspect at the same time.

Mr Haradinaj said he would be questioned next week. "I am not accused, but [will be] questioned" by the court, Haradinaj added.

The Kosovar president, Hashim Thaçi, wrote in a Facebook post that he had learned that the special court planned on interviewing former members of the KLA.

Haradinaj, who took office in September 2017, said he would "respect the legal request" although he thought the summons was politically bad for Kosovo. I will go there. "I will defend myself as a fighter of my country", he said.

A 2011 report by the Council of Europe linked Thaci and some other leading Kosovo figures to gruesome wartime crimes against Serbs, including trade in organs harvested from prisoners of war.

However he was acquitted in 2008 - the same year Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia - and again in 2012 after a retrial was ordered owing to allegations of witness intimidation in the first case. Haradinaj was one of the top KLA commanders during the war. He was tried and acquitted twice by that court. In 2005 he was indicted by the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal for former Yugoslavia.

Kosovo's Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj speaks during a press conference in Pristina, Kosovo, July 19, 2019.

During the Balkan wars, a paramilitary group the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) formed.

In January 2017 he was arrested at a French airport by police acting on an global arrest warrant from Serbia, which is pursuing separate charges of torture and murder of civilians in Kosovo in 1999.

Haradinaj said he would travel to The Hague next week.

"I believe in the purity of the KLA war and the high moral values of the freedom fighters", he said.

Kosovo, with a 90 percent ethnic Albanian majority, declared independence from Serbia in 2008 and has been recognized by over 110 states, but not by five European Union member states, Serbia or Russian Federation.

A European Union-facilitated dialogue to normalize ties between Kosovo and Serbia stalled a year ago after Haradinaj won approval for a 100% tax on imported Serb goods until Belgrade recognizes Pristina.