June 19, 2015 / 2:21 PM / 4 years ago

Slovenia releases former Kosovo prime minister

President of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) Ramush Haradinaj, a Kosovo Albanian former guerilla commander who served briefly as prime minister, speaks during an interview with Reuters at the AAK headquarters in Pristina December 4, 2012. REUTERS/Hazir Reka

LJUBLJANA (Reuters) - Former Kosovo prime minister Ramush Haradinaj has diplomatic immunity and can return home from Slovenia after being detained there on a Serbian war crimes warrant this week, a court ruled on Friday.

Haradinaj, an opposition political leader and former guerrilla commander during Kosovo’s 1998-99 war, had been ordered to remain in Slovenia until a court ruled on his case.

In a statement sent to Reuters, the district court in Kranj, Slovenia, said Haradinaj was free to leave.

“The Embassy of Kosovo in Ljubljana ... sent us a diplomatic note confirming that the Kosovo citizen was crossing Slovenia while returning from a special diplomatic mission abroad which is why Slovenia must enable him free passage,” the court said.

The arrest of Haradinaj, who was prime minister of Kosovo in 2004-05, had infuriated Kosovars, many of whom consider him a hero for his role in fighting Serbian forces in 1998-99.

The former Serbian province declared independence in 2008.

Haradinaj was tried and acquitted twice of war crimes at a United Nations court in the Hague. He frequently travels through Europe, including Slovenia, and it remains unclear why police acted on the 2004 warrant on this occasion and not earlier.

Kosovo and Slovenia otherwise enjoy good diplomatic relations and Slovenia is among the biggest investors in Kosovo.

Reporting by Marja Novak; Editing by Matt Robinson and Catherine Evans

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