Kosovo Expresident Thaci Set For First War Crimes Hearing

Kosovo’s previous president Hashim Thaci will appear on Monday prior to a war criminal activities court in The Hague, in a spectacular downfall for the one-time guerilla freedom hero from the 1990s dispute with Serbia.

Thaci, 52, resigned as president last Thursday and flew to the Netherlands where he was put in the detention centre of the Kosovo Expert Chambers (KSC), a court located in The Hague.

Thaci was the political chief of the rebel Kosovo Freedom Army (KLA), an ethnic Albanian group which battled Serb forces for the self-reliance of the southern province in a bitter dispute that declared more than 13,000 lives.

A secial EU cops unit jailed previous Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) representative Jakup Krasniqi at his house on the borders of Pristina AFP/ Armend NIMANI

He and 3 others have actually been charged with war crimes and crimes against mankind, including murder, torture, unlawful detention, implemented disappearances and persecution, devoted between 1998 and 1999.

The indictment implicates them of “a prevalent or organized attack versus the civilian population”, including those believed to be collaborating with Serb forces, or not working together with the KLA.

Thaci has actually repeatedly announced his innocence and declares the international system of justice is “rewording history” over the conflict. On Thursday he stated he was stepping down as president to “protect the integrity” of the office.

Thaci– who passed the nom de guerre “Snake” during the war– has promised to comply with the tribunal, which has scheduled his first hearing for 3:00 pm (1400 GMT) Monday.

The bitter dispute killed ethnic Albanian Kosovars for the a lot of part, and just ended when a NATO air campaign required Serb forces to withdraw from what was then one of the nation’s provinces AFP/ ARMEND NIMANI

On Monday, a judge will initially make sure “that the rights of the accused, including the right to legal representation, are appreciated, which the accused comprehends the charges,” a court declaration said.

Previous KLA representative Jakup Krasniqi, one of Thaci’s co-defendants, pleaded innocent to the charges when he made his first look at the court on Monday.

Ex president Hashim Thaci turned himself over to a Kosovo court located in The Hague where he is to deal with trial for war criminal activities and criminal activities against humanity AFP/ Armend NIMANI

” It is wrong that I am here, an oppression has been done versus me,” said Krasniqi, 69. a previous Kosovar political leader who was apprehended by armed EU authorities late Wednesday in Pristina.

” I have never dealt with individuals in my life in this method. It was war and we combated versus the Serbs who committed genocide in Kosovo,” he said, adding that the KLA remained in a “joint liberation business” with the United States, NATO and UN.

The other co-defendants are Thaci’s closest political ally Kadri Veseli and crucial KLA figure Rexhep Selimi.

The bitter dispute killed ethnic Albanian Kosovars for the many part, and just ended when a NATO air project required Serb forces to withdraw.

Kosovo president resigns to deal with war criminal offenses court AFPTV/ Kushtrim KADRIU

Leading Serbian military and authorities were later on convicted of war crimes in other global courts.

Thaci downed his weapons after the war and joined politics, leading then United States vice president Joe Biden to when hail him as the “George Washington of Kosovo”.

However rebel leaders of the KLA have also been accused of vengeance attacks on Serbs, Roma and ethnic Albanian rivals during and after the war.

Numerous former KLA chiefs have actually gone on to dominate politics in Kosovo, with many still seeing him as a freedom hero, although critics see him and others as the face of a corrupt, established political elite.

The charges are however a seismic moment for a young nation still having problem with tense relations with Serbia, and lacking global recognition from nations like Russia considering that Pristina unilaterally stated self-reliance in 2008.

Thaci’s first look in court was the leading headline in Kosovo newspapers while tv channels were set to bring it live.

While politicians took care not to talk about hearing, his previous war associates openly defended him.

” The indictment was submitted on the basis of the statement of the Serbian district attorney’s office. It’s a banal indictment,” Faton Klinaku, the general secretary of the war veterans organisation, informed regional media.

Viewpoint on the streets was blended.

” It’s wrong. The Serbs were the side that were committing crimes, killing us while they (the court) jailed those who were defending Kosovo,” Doruntina Begu, 41, a nurse in Pristina.

” Let’s leave this to the court. If Thaci is innocent, they will let him go in completion,” 72-year-old pensioner Musli Hasani said.

The judges, professional district attorney and staff are drawn from the worldwide community.

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