Hashim Thaçi, President of Kosovo, indicted on war crimes charges

Kosovo's President Hashim Thaçi has been charged with 10 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes relating to the 1998-99 Kosovo conflict, a special court announced Wednesday, just days before Thaçi is due to visit Washington D.C. for talks with Serbian leaders.

In a statement, the prosecutor’s office at the Hague-based International Court of Justice said charges had been filed in April against Thaçi and nine other former commanders in the Kosovo Liberation Army, which fought a guerrilla campaign against Serb forces before the Nato intervention. The court was set up to investigate allegations of crimes committed by the Kosovo Albanian side during the war.

The group are charged “with a range of crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, enforced disappearance of persons, persecution, and torture”. It said the group were “criminally responsible for nearly 100 murders”, and noted that the victims included Serbs, Kosovo Albanians and other ethnicities as well as political opponents.

The court emphasised that the indictment had not yet been proven, and also notes that the pre-trial judge had not yet made a ruling on confirming the charges. However, it was taking the unusual step of making the charges public before this point “because of repeated efforts by Hashim Thaçi and Kadri Veseli to obstruct and undermine the work of the court”.

It accused the pair of carrying out a “secret campaign” to overturn the law setting up the court in an attempt to obstruct its work and evade trial. “By taking these actions, 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,” said the court.

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