May 30, 2024

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Trial of ex-President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci begins in The Hague

The former head of the Kosovo guerrillas and the president of the unrecognized state, Hashim Thaci, accused of war crimes, will appear before a special court for Kosovo in The Hague on Monday.

Thaci, 54, and three of his associates were charged with 10 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for crimes during the 1998-99 war with Serbia, including persecution, murder, torture and enforced disappearance of people during the uprising, writes Reuters. They are accused of participating in a joint criminal group that carried out large-scale and systematic attacks on the Serb minority in Kosovo and on Kosovo Albanians. None of the defendants pleaded guilty to the charges.

Hashim Thaci is a former political commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army, which participated in the war against Serbia. He is considered a hero by his compatriots for leading an insurgency against Serbian rule in 1998-99 that led to independence. After the end of hostilities, Thaci went into politics: since 2008 he has been the prime minister, and since 2016 – the president of Kosovo.

The Special Court for Kosovo holds Thaçi responsible for almost 100 killings of civilians during the war. After being charged in November 2020, he resigned and voluntarily surrendered to the court.

On the eve of the trial, billboards appeared on the streets of Kosovo with photographs of Taci and ex-speaker of parliament Kadri Veseli with the inscription: “Heroes of war and peace.” War veterans and Kosovo nationalist groups announced a protest action in support of the defendants on Sunday.

Based in the Netherlands, the Kosovo Special Court was established in 2015 and is staffed by international judges and lawyers to try cases under Kosovo law against former AVC fighters. Some Kosovo Albanians believe that the tribunal is biased against the Kosovo Liberation Army and is interested in tarnishing its reputation.

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