RAMUSH Haradinaj, a former guerrilla commander in Kosovo who served briefly as prime minister, was acquitted of war crimes yesterday for a second time, clearing the way for a potential return to government but angering Serbia.
The retrial verdict by a United Nations court in The Hague looked likely to test a new push by the European Union to reconcile Serbia and its former southern province almost five years after Kosovo declared independence with Western backing.
It comes on the heels of the acquittal on appeal two weeks ago of top Croatian general Ante Gotovina, fuelling nationalist accusations in Serbia that the court is biased against them.
Judges ruled there was no evidence to support charges against Haradinaj of crimes against humanity during a 1998-99 war between guerrillas of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and security forces under late Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic.
Prosecutors had accused Haradinaj, 44, and two accomplices of persecuting ethnic Serbs in an effort to drive them out.