The president of kosovo accused of war crimes by international justice

Le président kosovar accusé de crimes de guerre par la justice internationale

The prosecutor of the special tribunal for Kosovo on Wednesday accused the president of kosovo Hashim Thaci, the former leader of the separatist guerrilla movement, war crimes and crimes against humanity alleged in the context of the conflict against Serbia in the late 90’s.

Hashim Thaci is accused of “killings, forced disappearance of persons, persecution and torture,” said the tribunal headquarters in The Hague.

A judge “is currently reviewing the indictment to decide whether to confirm the charges”, a procedure which could lead to a charge in good and due form.

Mr. Thaci has “suspended” his trip to Washington where he was expected at a summit planned for Saturday, with Serbia and will be returned to Kosovo Thursday, announced his cabinet.

According to a journalist of the tv channel Albanian Top Channel, who interviewed him at the airport in Tirana before the announcement of his indictment, the chief of the State of kosovo was taken Wednesday afternoon on a flight for Frankfurt en route to Washington.

The emissary u.s. Richard Grenell clarified that “the discussions of Saturday,” at the White House, which are intended to revive the peace dialogue frozen since the end of 2018, were maintained, but only between the president of serbia Aleksandar Vucic and Prime minister of kosovo Avdullah Hoti.

Created in 2015, the special court for Kosovo is mandated to investigate alleged crimes committed by the separatist guerrilla movement, kosovar Albanian (UCK), mainly against Serbs, Roma and opponents of Albanian guerrillas during and after the conflict of 1998-99.

President of Kosovo since 2016, Mr. Thaci is the subject of the ten counts of the indictment issued on April 24 and made public on Wednesday.

These charges also relate to Kadri Veseli, the former head of intelligence of the guerrilla movement and current leader of the democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), as well as “other persons”.

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

Mr. Veseli has rejected these accusations in front of the press.

“The statement by the prosecutor is a new attempt to rewrite history,” he said, accusing him of motives as “political”.

The court “erred” in making public the indictment just before the Washington summit, said Hysni Gucati, president of the association of veterans of the Kosovo.

The announcement could indeed be related to this meeting, during which “the dissolution of the special court could be on the table of negotiations,” analysis of Vigan Corolli, a professor of law at the University of Pristina, the capital of Kosovo.

The United States have, however, felt that it was a “step toward justice and reconciliation”. “This announcement is essential to promote the rule of law and justice for the victims in Kosovo, and to enable the country to turn the page of this awful period and join the euro-atlantic community”, said a spokesman for the american diplomacy.

“Campaign secret”

The last conflict in ex-Yugoslavia, the war in Kosovo between Serbian forces and separatist guerrilla movement, kosovar Albanian has made more than 13 000 dead. It ended when a western campaign of bombing forced the serb forces to withdraw.

The dispute between Serbia and its former southern province is a territorial conflict the most intractable of Europe. Belgrade refuses to recognize the independence proclaimed in 2008 by the Kosovo.

“We know that it is Serbia which has committed crimes in Kosovo. This is why it is a bad news for me,” responded Qazim Fazlia, a pensioner living in Pristina.

“I hope that (the accusations) are not true,” she said Ermal Emini, another inhabitant of the capital, 35-year-old.

The special court has referred to a “campaign secret” of MESSRS. Thaci and Veseli to prevent its creation and halt its work “in order to ensure that they are not brought to justice”.

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

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

When asked by the media in April about a possible resignation from the post of president in the event of indictment, Mr. Thaci said: “I will respond positively” to the invitation to appear before the court, “but I will resign not”.

The attorney had drawn up in February, the first indictments in this matter, without disclosing the identity of the suspects.

Several high-ranking kosovo officials have been summoned in the past. The ex-Prime minister of kosovo Ramush Haradinaj resigned in July 2019 from its duties after having been summoned by the court as a suspect.

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