Kosovo president to be interviewed on war crimes charges

FILE PHOTO: Kosovo's President Hashim Thaci attends an interview with Reuters in Berlin, Germany, April 29, 2019. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke/File Photo

PRISTINA (Reuters) – Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci said he will travel to the Netherlands on July 13 to be interviewed by international prosecutors following his indictment for war crimes and crimes against humanity over his role in its independence conflict.

On June 24 a special prosecutor’s office in The Hague dealing with Kosovo’s 1998-99 uprising against Serbian rule said it had indicted Thaci, former parliamentary speaker Kadri Veseli and others for murder, enforced disappearances, persecution and torture.

Both Thaci and Veseli, who served as top commanders in the former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), have denied the accusations.

“I would like to share with you that on Monday I will also travel to The Hague, invited by the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office, to be interviewed,” Thaci said on his Facebook page.

“While my compatriots as well as me will face international justice with dignity and integrity, I call upon you to stand united in dealing with the challenges that our country is facing.”

The Specialist Chamber was set up in The Hague in 2015 to handle cases of alleged crimes by KLA guerrillas during the war that led to Kosovo’s independence from Serbia a decade later.

Some 250 people have so far been interviewed.

The indictments against Thaci and Veseli are not final and a judge will now take several months to decide whether the cases built by the special prosecutor’s office are strong enough to put them on trial or not.

The indictments of Thaci, Veseli and others also include nearly 100 murders.

The Specialist Chamber is governed by Kosovo law but is staffed by international judges and prosecutors.

Local efforts to investigate alleged KLA war crimes have so far been foiled by widespread intimidation in Kosovo, a poor country where clan loyalties run deep and former rebels are seen as liberators.

More Stories