Colmar, France. The French appeals court on Thursday said it had refused the extradition request of Serbia for former Kosovo prime minister Ramush Haradinaj, who was a military commander during the 1998-99 Kosovo war.

The court released him effective immediately.

French authorities had earlier detained Haradinaj after he flew into France back in January, following a request from Serbia, which says he is a war criminal for his role in leading a military unit in the former southern province of Kosovo.

The arrest has further strained relations between Serbia and Kosovo, which declared independence with Western backing in 2008 and has demanded Belgrade drop its efforts to prosecute people linked to the conflict.

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