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Ex-Kosovo leader's trial opens

March 06, 2007|From the Associated Press

THE HAGUE — The chief Yugoslav war crimes prosecutor denounced Kosovo's former prime minister Monday as a warlord and "a gangster in uniform" responsible for dozens of murders during the province's 1998-99 war with Serbian forces.

His defense attorney, however, called former Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj "a unifying influence and the standard-bearer for his nation's hopes of independence from Serbia," in opening statements at the trial of Haradinaj and two other fighters of the Kosovo Liberation Army: Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj. All three have denied the charges. They could face life in prison if convicted.

"The three accused were gangsters in uniform," the U.N.'s Carla Del Ponte said.

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