Albania PM calls Kosovo leader’s indictment ‘shameful stain’


PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) – Albania’s prime minister on Monday called the indictment of Kosovo’s president and other former rebel fighters a “shameful stain” on world justice.

Kosovo President Hasim Thaci and the others were indicted by a prosecutor at The Hague on alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity during and after a 1998-1999 armed conflict between ethnic Albanian separatists and Serbia.

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama made an unexpected visit to neighboring Kosovo to meet with top leaders, including Thaci and former parliamentary Speaker Kadri Veseli, both part of a group of former independence fighters accused of war crimes.

The indictment was made public last week, but a pretrial judge at The Hague-based Kosovo Specialist Chambers has yet to make a decision on whether to proceed with the case.

Rama’s unannounced visit to Kosovo, which also has a predominantly ethnic Albanian population, was a signal of support from neighboring Albania. He tweeted that the indictment was a “shameful stain of 21st century” world justice. Thaci plans to address the country in the evening.

Thaci was a commander of the Kosovo Liberation army, or KLA, that fought for independence from Serbia. The fighting left more than 10,000 dead – most of them ethnic Albanians – and 1,641 are still unaccounted for. It ended after a 78-day NATO air campaign that forced Serbian troops to stop their brutal crackdown against ethnic Albanians and leave Kosovo.

Thaci’s indictment also disrupted a White House meeting between Kosovo and Serbia leaders initiated by U.S presidential envoy Richard Grenell, which would have been the first official talks between Serbia and Kosovo in 19 months.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, a move Serbia refuses to recognize.

The United States and the European Union have been working to help normalize ties between the two countries which still remain tense.

FILE – In this Monday, Jan. 21, 2019 file photo, Kosovo president Hashim Thaci gestures during a press conference in Kosovo capital Pristina. 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, it was reported on Wednesday, June 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu, File)