Crime & Justice

Kosovo president indicted on charges of war crimes

The Hague, Jun 24  (efe-epa).- Specialist prosecutors investigating potential crimes against ethnic Serbs during the Kosovan war in the late 1990s on Wednesday indicted the current Kosovo president Hashim Thaçi on allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In a statement, the Hague-based prosecution charged Thaçi and other former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army “with a rage of crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, enforced disappearance of persons, persecution, and torture.”

It said the Kosovo president and the others accused were “criminally responsible for nearly 100 murders.”

A judge at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers court will now decide whether to pursue the charges.

Prosecutors are seeking the same charges against the leader of the Democratic Party of Kosovo Kadri Veseli and other former KLA members who were not named in the indictment.

Prosecutors said: “The indictment is only an accusation. It is the result of a lengthy investigation and reflects the SPO’s determination that it can prove all the charges beyond reasonable doubt.”

The office is led by prosecutor Jack Smith.

According to the indictment, the victims of the accused ran into the hundreds and involved Kosovo Albanians, Serbs, members of other ethnic groups and political opponents.

“The Specialist Prosecutor has deemed it necessary to issue this public notice of charges because of repeated efforts by Hashum Thaçi and Kadri Veseli are believed to have carried out a secret campaign to obstruct and undermine the world of the KSC,” the statement said.

The court was created to investigate accusations of war crimes committed by the Kosovo Liberation Army in the Kosovo war between 1998-2000.

“Mr Thaçi and Mr Veseli have put their personal interests ahead of the victims of their crimes, the rule of law, and all people of Kosovo,” prosecutors said.

Kosovo Specialist Chambers follows Kosovan law but is made up of international judges and is based in the Hague given the delicacy of the topic in Pristina. Basing it in the Netherlands also provides a safer environment for witnesses to come forward.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia on 2008 and is recognised by around 100 nations. Authorities in Belgrade do not recognize its declaration. EFE-EPA

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