War crime files again delivered to Kosovo veterans

PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Kosovo war veterans said Tuesday an unknown person for the third time has brought to them war crime files from a special international court in The Hague, Netherlands, probing alleged crimes during and after the Balkan nation’s 1998-1999 war.

Hysni Gucati, head of the association of former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) fighters, said an unidentified man delivered the files, copies of the originals, to their office Tuesday morning in Kosovo’s capital, Pristina.

That is the third such an incident in two months.

Nasim Haradinaj, another association official, said the names of President Hashim Thaci and other former top KLA leaders were mentioned in a draft document on charges against them.

“It would be good that the local prosecutor’s office and the international ones probe and find who is bringing them and from where,” said Gucati.

The Kosovo Specialist Chambers is mandated to look into allegations that KLA members committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Christopher Bennett, spokesman for the court’s Specialist Prosecutor’s Office, said he had “no comment” on the files issue.

Thaci, former parliamentary speaker Kadri Veseli, and some others have been charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, enforced disappearances, persecution and torture. Both men have denied committing any crimes.

A pretrial judge hasn’t made a decision on whether to proceed with their case.

“These (files) show the charges have been based on slander, on words from (then-Serb leader Slobodan) Milosevic, just a description of his charges made in 1998 now refreshed for a new date,” said Haradinaj.

A copy of the documents was offered to journalists.

A statement from the embassies of France, Germany, Italy, the U.K. and the United States last week urged people not to discredit the court’s mission.

In a separate development, Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark of the European Union Rule of Law Mission that governs the court nominated six new international judges to the court, which already has 17 judges. The court has not started any trials so far since the start of its operation five years ago.

The 1998-1999 war for Kosovo’s independence from Serbia left more than 10,000 people dead — most of them ethnic Albanians from Kosovo. More than 1,600 people remain unaccounted for. The fighting ended after a 78-day NATO air campaign against Serbian troops.

Kosovo, which is dominated by ethnic Albanians, declared independence from Serbia in 2008, a move recognized by many Western nations but not Serbia or its allies Russia and China.

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Semini reported from Tirana, Albania.

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