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Monday, February 18, 2008

Serbia files treason charges against Kosovo leaders following secession
Michael Sung at 8:48 AM ET

[JURIST] The Serbian Interior Ministry on Monday filed treason charges against Kosovar Prime Minister Hashim Thaci [official website, in Albanian; BBC profile], President Fatmir Sejdiu [official website, in Albanian], and Speaker of Parliament Jakup Krasniqi, for their role in organizing the Assembly of Kosovo's Sunday declaration of independence from Serbia [text; JURIST report]. Thaci, former leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army [FAS backgrounder], was convicted in absentia and sentenced to 10 years in prison on terrorism charges in 1997 by a Serbian court.

Kosovo's decision to declare unilateral independence has been condemned by Serbia and Russia. The Serbian government on Sunday denounced the declaration as illegal [press release] and previously formally condemned the succession [text; JURIST report] as null and void and in violation of "the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Serbia guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia, the United Nations Charter, Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999), other relevant Security Council Resolutions as well as by international law in force." On Sunday, the UN Security Council [official website] failed to reach a consensus on the situation during an emergency session requested by Russia. Russia has also rejected Kosovo's declaration, warning that such unilateral action without the approval of the United Nations sets a dangerous precedent for "frozen conflicts" around the world. Other countries have said they will recognize an independent Kosovo, and on Monday US President George W. Bush said that "the Kosovars are now independent" [AP report]. AFP has more. Reuters has additional coverage.

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