Kosovo president charged with war crimes over 1990s killings

THE HAGUE: Kosovo President Hashim Thaci has been charged with 10 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in the country's conflict in the 1990s, a tribunal in The Hague said on Wednesday (Jun 24).

Wartime intelligence chief and former parliamentary speaker Kadri Veseli is also accused of war crimes, the Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC) said, adding that the charges against both men were brought on Apr 24 but not revealed publicly. at the time.

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"The indictment alleges that Hashim Thaci, Kadri Veseli and the other charged suspects are criminally responsible for nearly 100 murders," the KSC said in a statement.

The accused are also facing other charges such as enforced disappearance of persons, persecution and torture, the tribunal said.

The crimes alleged in the indictment "involved hundreds of known victims of Kosovo Albanian, Serb, Roma, and other ethnicities and include political opponents", it added.

Prosecutors said they decided to make the accusations public because Thaci and Veseli had made "repeated attempts" to obstruct the KSC.

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Thaci was preparing for a summit at the White House on Saturday with Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic and local media reports suggested he had already left for the US.

But US special envoy to Serbia and Kosovo Richard Grenell, who organised the White House meeting, said in a tweet that Thaci had cancelled going to the summit following the charges in The Hague.

"I respect his decision not to attend the discussions until the legal issues of those allegations are settled," Grenell said, adding talks will now go ahead with Kosovo's new Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti, who has moved to ease friction with Serbia.

Grenell has ruffled European feathers by launching a diplomatic process between the two sides parallel to decade-long talks mediated by the EU.

But he denied trying to overshadow the EU-led process, saying his meeting will focus on boosting economic ties. Trump was not expected to attend the meeting.

WARTIME ATROCITIES

The EU-backed tribunal was established in 2015 to investigate crimes by independence-seeking ethnic Albanian guerrillas against mainly Serb civilians during the 1998-1999 war.

The conflict pitted Kosovo Liberation Army guerrillas seeking independence for the southern Serbian province of Kosovo against Serbia's forces, who withdrew from the territory after an 11-week NATO bombing campaign.

The tribunal was created after a Council of Europe report tied former guerrilla leaders including Thaci to atrocities.

The court announced earlier this year that it had handed down first indictments against high-ranking Kosovo officials without naming them, but speculation was already rife that it includeRead More – Source