Kosovo president, 9 ex-fighters indicted for war crimes


PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) – Kosovo’s president and nine other former separatist fighters were indicted on a range of crimes against humanity and war crimes charges, including murder, by a court investigating crimes against ethnic Serbs during and after Kosovo’s 1998-99 independence war with Serbia.

A statement from a prosecutor of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers issued Wednesday said President Hashim Thaci and the others suspects “are criminally responsible for nearly 100 murders,” involving hundreds of known Kosovar Albanian, Serb and Roma victims, as well as political opponents.

Other charges include enforced disappearance, persecution, and torture. Thaci commanded fighters in the Kosovo Liberation Army, or KLA, during the war.

The president’s advisers did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Associated Press.

The indicted group also includes Kadri Veseli, former parliament speaker and leader of the opposition Democratic Party of Kosovo.

The indictment issued Wednesday was the first by the special tribunal based in the Hague. The court has been operating since 2015 and has questioned hundreds of witnesses. Kosovo’s prime minister resigned last year before he was questioned.

The indictment is being reviewed by a pretrial judge who will decide whether to confirm the charges, according to the statement.

The prosecutor filed the indictment following a lengthy investigation and it reflects his “determination that it can prove all of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt,” the statement said.

The prosecutor also accused Thaci and Veseli of repeated efforts “to obstruct and undermine the work” of the tribunal.

“Thaci and Veseli are believed to have carried out a secret campaign to overturn the law creating the Court and otherwise obstruct the work of the Court in an attempt to ensure that they do not face justice,” the statement said.

“By taking these actions, Mr. Thaci and Mr. Veseli have put their personal interests ahead of the victims of their crimes, the rule of law, and all people of Kosovo,” it added.

The 1998-1999 war left more than 10,000 dead and 1,641 are still unaccounted for. It ended after a 78-day NATO air campaign.

Serbia doesn’t recognize Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence.

Semini reported from Tirana, Albania.