Kosovo PM removed from international arrest warrant: minister

Kosovo's Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj talks during an interview withe Reuters in Pristina, Kosovo, October 16, 2017. REUTERS/Hazir reka/Files

PRISTINA (Reuters) - Kosovo’s Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj was removed from an international arrest warrant issued by Serbia, lifting an obstacle to him travelling outside the country, the justice minister said on Friday.

Early this year Ramush Haradinaj, a former Kosovar guerilla leader who in September took over as prime minister, was arrested in France on an arrest warrant issued by Serbia. He was released after a French court rejected Belgrade’s extradition request.

Despite many attempts by Pristina, Belgrade refused to remove his name from the Interpol red notice.

“Today I was informed that Interpol has removed 18 people from Kosovo that are wanted by Serbia and this list includes also the prime minister,” Abelard Tahiri, Kosovo’s Justice Minister told Reuters.

“After today’s decision all these individuals are free to travel outside the country without any problem.”

Haradinaj and others are wanted by Serbia for allegedly committing war crimes.

Serbia has charged Haradinaj with murdering Serbs in the late 1990s war. The 1998-99 conflict ended after NATO bombed the now-defunct Yugoslavia, then comprising Serbia and Montenegro, for 78 days to force a withdrawal of its troops from Kosovo and end a counter-insurgency campaign against ethnic Albanians.

Haradinaj, who has twice been tried and acquitted by the United Nations war crimes tribunal in the Hague, denies any wrongdoing.

Kosovo declared independence in 2008 but Serbia refused to recognize its former breakaway province.

(Reporting by Fatos Bytyci; Editing by Andrew Hay)