Former Kosovo president and guerrilla chief Hashim Thaci to face war crimes trial in The Hague

1 April, 11:06 PM
A billboard with Hashim Thaci in Kosovo (Photo:REUTERS/Laura Hasani)

A billboard with Hashim Thaci in Kosovo (Photo:REUTERS/Laura Hasani)

Former Kosovan President Hashim Thaci will appear in court in The Hague on Monday, April 3, for his trial for alleged war crimes during the 1998-1999 war with Serbia, Reuters reported on March 31.

“A special Kosovo court set up in The Hague indicted Thaci in November 2020 on 10 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity including persecution, murder, torture and enforced disappearance of people among other things during the uprising,” Reuters said.

Thaci has denied all charges and called them baseless.

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On Nov. 6, 2020, he was detained in The Hague on Nov. 6, 2020, along with three of his closest associates who face the same charges. Shortly after, Thaci resigned from his position.

In addition to Thaci, former Speaker of the Kosovo Parliament Kadri Veseli, one of the field commanders of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) Rexhep Selimi, and former head of parliament Jakup Krasniqi were also detained at the time.

Thaci co-founded the KLA, a paramilitary organization that operated during the Kosovo War with the goal of securing independence for Kosovo from Serbia. Thaci and other former commanders are now accused by the court of killing nearly 100 people, including Serbs, Kosovo Albanians, members of other ethnic groups, and political opponents.

After the war, Thaci pursued a career in politics, becoming the prime minister of Kosovo in 2008 and President in 2016.

He is widely regarded as a hero by fellow Kosovars, and billboards featuring pictures of Thaci and Veseli with the slogan “War and Peace Heroes” have been seen in the country.

As a result of the war in Kosovo in 1998-1999, over 10,000 people were killed. The war ended after NATO bombed Serbia for 78 days. The Serb military withdrew from Kosovo and the region came under the control of UN peacekeepers.

In 2008, Kosovo declared its independence. It is currently recognized by about 110 countries around the world, including the United States and all but five European Union countries (Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia, Spain).

The special Kosovo court was established separately from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, which was also located in The Hague. The court is responsible for prosecuting war crimes in the conflicts in Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo.

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