Colombia deports ex-Kosovo PM

PARIS: Kosovo's former prime minister Agim Ceku, who is wanted in Serbia on war crimes charges, confirmed he had been expelled from Colombia and could not return, in comments to AFP Thursday.

"I can confirm that I am banned from entering Colombia for the next 10 years," Ceku told AFP by phone.

Although officials from his Social Democratic Party in Kosovo were quoted as saying that Ceku had been in Paris, the former prime minister would only say he was in Europe.

Serbia's "warrant has no legal basis, this is a political warrant," Ceku said.

"Serbia has no jurisdiction in Kosovo since 1999," when its troops had withdrawn from then Serbian province after the end of NATO bombing campaign, he added.

Serbia accuses Ceku of crimes against humanity during the 1998-1999 war in Kosovo when he was military chief of the Kosovo Liberation Army, made up of ethnic Albanian Kosovo guerrillas.

Colombia's intelligence service announced on Thursday that Ceku had been expelled the previous day.

Colombia's intelligence service the Administrative Department of Security (DAS) said in a statement they had declined to detain Ceku because the crimes of which he is accused took place before January 2005.

That was before Colombia's current penal law took effect, the DAS said in a statement.

Ceku had been expelled at the request of Interpol, the statement added, giving no details as to where he had been travelling.

It was not the first time the Interpol warrant has caught up with Ceku. He has previously been detained in Hungary and several other European countries.

Ceku, 48, arrived in Colombia on Sunday to attend an international meeting on disarmament and demobilization in the Caribbean port city of Cartagena, which concluded Wednesday.

Since declaring independence in February 2008, Kosovo has been recognised by 58 countries, including the United States and most of the European Union.

But Serbia and its powerful ally Russia, have refused to recognise the legality of Kosovo's secession from Serbia.

Ceku has enjoyed great popularity in Kosovo, where the ethnic Albanian majority have regularly chosen him as their most liked and trustworthy personality in opinion polls.