Moscow says France's decision to release leader of Kosovo militants politicized

Haradinaj's lawyer, Rachel Lindon, said the court ruled against the extradition because he would not have had a fair and balanced trial if sent to Serbia. The court's decision prompted the Serbian government to withdraw its ambassador in France for consultations, B92 reports.

Haradinaj gave a speech stressing that "Albanians are peaceful people but they can not be subdued". She said it is unclear whether he will stay in France.

A Serbian court has charged Haradinaj with killings, torture and abductions of Serbs, ethnic Albanians and minority Roma people during and after the 1998-1999 war that led to Kosovo's independence from Serbia, which Belgrade does not accept.

Serbia called an immediate cabinet meeting to discuss the court's decision, which can not be appealed.

Serbia's government requested his extradition after French police arrested Haradinaj in January on a Serbian arrest warrant, including new accusations.

The arrest further strained brittle diplomatic ties between Serbia and Kosovo.

It also opposes Kosovo's independence, declared in 2008, and has blocked its accession to the United Nations and its bodies. The court in the northeastern town of Colmar said Haradinaj has been released.

The Kosovar government said in a statement that the French judge's ruling confirmed that Serbian arrest warrants against Haradinaj and other KLA fighters "are political and have low intentions".

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.

A blog post by former RFE/RL Balkan editor Gordana Knezevic notes that two previous occasions of people suspected by Serbia of war crimes being detained overseas led to nothing, suggesting Belgrade uses arrest warrants more to sway opinion at home.

  • Joey Payne