High-ranking Kosovo officials arrested for graft

Published on March 14, 2007, Reuters

Category: Organized Crime in Kosovo

PRISTINA, Serbia, March 12 (Reuters) - Police in Serbia's breakaway Kosovo province arrested two men for money laundering on Monday, with local media saying charges relate to fundraising for former Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, now on trial for war crimes.

Police did not officialy identify the men, saying only that two suspects were arrested and their houses and offices were being searched by police, including those from the United Nations which administers the province.

A police source told Reuters the men were ethnic Albanians, an adviser to current Kosovo Prime Minister Agim Ceku and the director of a local bank.

Haradinaj, a former commander in the rebel Kosovo Liberation Army, is on trial at the U.N. tribunal in The Hague for murder, rape and torture alleged to have been committed by soldiers under his command in the war against Serbian forces in 1998-99.

The fund for his defence collects money through a telephone hotline and is said to total over 7.5 million euros ($10 million) so far.

Kosovo, where 90 percent of the 2 million population are ethnic Albanians, has been run by the U.N. since NATO intervened in 1999 to stop a Serb crackdown on the Albanian insurgency.

U.N. envoy Martti Ahtisaari will this month present to the Security Council his proposal for the future of the province, a blueprint that sets out the framework for an independent state under a foreign overseer and European Union police mission.

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