Kosovar president accused of war crimes by international justice

Kosovar president accused of war crimes by international justice

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Kosovar President Hashim Thaci, the former head of the separatist guerrillas, has been caught up in his past: the prosecutor of the special court for Kosovo he accused him on Wednesday of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Hashim Thaci is charged with “crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, enforced disappearance, persecution and torture”, during the conflict against Serbia in the late 1990s, the court said. headquarters in The Hague.

A judge “is currently examining the indictment to decide whether to confirm the charges”, a procedure which could lead to a formal charge.

President of Kosovo since 2016, Mr. Thaci has “interrupted” his trip to Washington where he was expected to attend a summit with Serbia and will return to Kosovo, his cabinet announced on Wednesday, without specifying where he is currently.

The American envoy for this file Richard Grenell clarified on Twitter that “Saturday’s discussions” in the White House, which aim to revive the peace dialogue frozen since the end of 2018, were maintained, but only between Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovan Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti.

Created in 2015, the Special Court for Kosovo is responsible for investigating crimes allegedly committed by the Kosovar Albanian independence guerrilla (UCK), mainly against Serbs, Roma and Albanian opponents of guerrilla warfare during and after. the 1998-99 conflict.

Thaci is the subject of ten charges issued on April 24 and released on Wednesday, the court said.

These accusations also concern Kadri Veseli, the former head of Kosovar guerrilla intelligence and current leader of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), as well as “other people”.

According to the indictment, “Hashim Thaci, Kadri Veseli and the other accused suspects are criminally responsible for almost 100 murders,” the court said.

The court “erred” in making the indictment public just before the Kosovo-Serbia summit, responded Hysni Gucati, president of the Kosovo Veterans Association, calling the move ” completely political. ”

The announcement by the prosecutor’s office could indeed be linked to the summit of June 27, “where the dissolution of the Special Court could be on the negotiating table”, analyzes Vigan Corolli, professor of law at the University of Pristina.

“Secret campaign”

Last conflict in ex-Yugoslavia, the Kosovo war between Serbian forces and Kosovar Albanian independence guerrillas left more than 13,000 dead (more than 11,000 Kosovar Albanians, 2,000 Serbs and a few hundred Roma). It ended when a Western bombing campaign forced Serbian forces to withdraw.

The dispute between Belgrade and its former southern province is one of the thorniest territorial disputes inEurope. Serbia refuses to recognize the independence proclaimed in 2008 by Kosovo after the war.

Asked by the media in April about a possible resignation from his post as president if he is indicted by the Special Court for Kosovo, Mr. Thaci replied: “Why should I resign?”.

“I will respond positively (to the invitation to appear in court), but I will not resign,” he then replied.

On Wednesday, the court spoke of “a secret campaign” on the part of MM. Thaci and Veseli to prevent its creation and stop its work “in order to guarantee that they are not brought to justice”.

“The specialized prosecutor deemed it necessary to issue this public indictment because of the repeated efforts of Hashim Thaci and Kadri Veseli to obstruct and undermine the work” of the court.

“Through these actions, they put their personal interests before the victims of their crimes, the rule of law and all the citizens of Kosovo,” he wrote.

Several senior Kosovar officials have been summoned to court in the past.

The court prosecutor had drawn up the first indictments in this case in February, without disclosing the identity of the suspects.

Kosovar ex-Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj resigned in July 2019 after being summoned by the special court as a suspect.

06/24/2020 19:42:12 – The Hague (AFP) – © 2020 AFP


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