Kosovo: President Thaci Resigns To Face War Crimes Charges


By Xhorxhina Bami

Hashim Thaci told a press conference in Pristina on Thursday that he will step down as president after war crimes charges against him were confirmed by a pre-trial judge at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers in The Hague.

“I will not appear before the court as president. Today I resign from the position of president of the Republic of Kosovo,” said Thaci, who was the political leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army during the 1998-99 war.

The Kosovo Specialist Prosecutor’s Office announced in June that it intended to charge Thaci, former parliamentary speaker Kadri Veseli and others with a range of crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, enforced disappearance of persons, persecution, and torture.

“The indictment alleges that Hashim Thaci, Kadri Veseli, and the other charged suspects are criminally responsible for nearly 100 murders. The crimes alleged in the indictment involve hundreds of known victims of Kosovo Albanian, Serb, Roma, and other ethnicities and include political opponents,” it said.

Veseli also said on Thursday that the indictment charging him has been confirmed.

Thaci’s resignation means that parliamentary speaker Vjosa Osmani will now serve as acting president until Kosovo’s parliament manages to reach a consensus on a new head of state.

Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti’s office said in a statement after the resignation of Thaci that “the Kosovo Liberation Army fought for the liberation of our country” and that “no one can judge our struggle for freedom”.

The Kosovo Specialist Chambers were set up to try crimes allegedly committed during and just after the Kosovo war from 1998 to 2000. They are part of Kosovo’s judicial system but located in the Netherlands and staffed by internationals.

They were set up under pressure from Kosovo’s Western allies, who feared that Kosovo’s justice system was not robust enough to try KLA cases and protect witnesses from interference.

The so-called ‘special court’ is widely resented by Kosovo Albanians who see it as an insult to the KLA’s war for liberation from Serbian rule.

Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (formerly the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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