A U.N. war crimes tribunal on Thursday acquitted Kosovo's former prime minister for the second time of murdering and torturing Serbs and their supporters in Kosovo's war for independence, setting the stage for his return to political life in the deeply divided nation.
The verdict was issued in the U.N. court's first ever retrial, which was ordered after appeals judges branded the 2008 acquittals of former Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj and KLA fighters Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj a "miscarriage of justice" because of widespread intimidation of prosecution witnesses.
Brahimaj was convicted of torture at the first trial and that was not retried, but he has served his sentence and will be released with the others.
The acquittals herald a political renaissance for Haradinaj, seen by the West before his 2005 indictment as a unifying force in Kosovo, but could complicate talks between Pristina and Belgrade on Kosovo's future.
"With the consent of the people, he will soon be resuming his rightful position as the political leader of the country," his lawyer Ben Emmerson told reporters at the court.