Kosovo’s president to be questioned in war crimes inquiry

PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Kosovo’s president said Wednesday that he would go to The Hague to be questioned by prosecutors investigating war crimes allegedly committed during and after a 1998-1999 armed conflict in Kosovo between ethnic Albanian separatists and Serbia.

Hashim Thaci said in a statement posted on Facebook that he was “invited by the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office to be interviewed” on Monday.

The prosecutor’s office connected to an international court set up in The Hague to look into allegations that members of the Kosovo Liberation Army committed war crimes and crimes against humanity during the 1990s war announced the indictment last month of Thaci and other former fighters.

Thaci was a commander of the Kosovo Liberation army, or KLA, that fought for independence from Serbia.


Both the president and former Kosovo assembly speaker Kadri Veseli, who also was indicted, have denied responsibility for war crimes.

The indictment accuses them of being criminally responsible for nearly 100 murders of Serbs, Roma and Kosovo Albanian political opponents, as well as forced disappearances, persecution and torture.

A pretrial judge at The Hague-based Kosovo Specialist Chambers hasn’t made a decision on whether to proceed with the case or throw it out.

Hundreds of former Kosovar independence fighters have been questioned by the Hague-based court since January of last year. War veterans have planned a demonstration for Thursday.

Thaci has said that if the indictment stands he “will immediately resign as your president and face the accusations.”

The fighting in Kosovo left more than 10,000 dead, most of them ethnic Albanians. It ended after a 78-day NATO air campaign in 1999 that forced Serbian troops to stop their brutal crackdown against ethnic Albanians and leave Kosovo.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, a move Serbia refuses to recognize. Thaci called on Kosovo’s majority ethnic-Albanian population “to stand united in dealing with the challenges that our country is facing.”

“Civic unity, inter-ethnic coexistence, institutional stability, trust in the institutions, are necessary for Kosovo to make its vision to be part of NATO, of the European Union, and to maintain eternal friendship with the United States of America a reality,” he said.

Thaci’s indictment led to the postponement of a White House meeting between the leaders of Kosovo and Serbia that was organized by U.S presidential envoy Richard Grenell. Thaci was traveling to Washington for the discussions when the indictment was announced.

Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic are scheduled to hold European Union-supervised talks in Brussels on Sunday, the first negotiations to normalize relations between the two countries in more than 19 months.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell will host the meeting. French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel plan to hold virtual preparatory talks with the three on Friday.


Semini reported from Tirana, Albania.

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