Photo: BIRN.

Kosovo president ‘pleased’ after four-day war crimes questioning

After being questioned for four days in The Hague, President Hashim Thaci, a former Kosovo Liberation Army leader, said prosecutors should conclude that he hasn’t committed any war crimes.

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci said on Thursday evening after that the Kosovo Specialist Prosecutor’s Office, which questioned him for four days in a row this week, should conclude that he is innocent.

“I am very pleased that for four days I had the opportunity to give evidence on all issues related to my activity during the war period, and my efforts for peace, stability, development and progress,” Thaci, who was a Kosovo Liberation Army leader during the 1998-99 war, told media.

Thaci said he gave the Hague prosecutors, who are probing wartime and post-war crimes in Kosovo, “information about my role, my responsibilities during the war”.

He said that “now it is up to the prosecutor and the judge to evaluate my testimonies impartially”.

“If they do it professionally, they can easily conclude that I have not committed any war crimes,” he added.

The Specialist Prosecutor’s Office announced last month that it has prepared an indictment charging Thaci, as well as senior Kosovo politician Kadri Veseli and other former KLA fighters, with war crimes and crimes against humanity. The indictment still needs to be approved by a judge.

A small group of Albanians protested against the indictment in front of the Specialist Chambers building on Monday, when Thaci arrived for his first day of questioning, holding placards with slogans like “This is racism”, singing songs and shouting “UCK”, the Albanian acronym for the KLA.

If the indictment is confirmed, Thaci faces trial at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers in The Hague. He has denied any wrongdoing and has said he will step down as president if he is put on trial.

Over 100 other former Kosovo Liberation Army fighters have also been interviewed by the Hague prosecutors, who are probing allegations including murder, torture and illegal detentions.

The Specialist Prosecutor’s Office said it made the charges against Thaci and Veseli public last month because it claimed they were involved in “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 Kosovo Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office are part of Kosovo’s justice system but are 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 such sensitive cases.

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.

17/07/2020 - 09:35

17 July 2020 - 09:35

Prishtina Insight is a digital and print magazine published by BIRN Kosovo, an independent, non-governmental organisation. To find out more about the organization please visit the official website. Copyright © 2016 BIRN Kosovo.