Kosovo President Hashim Thaci charged with war crimes

A special prosecutor on Wednesday indicted Kosovo President Hashim Thaci on charges of war crimes stemming from the war of independence with Serbia more than 20 years ago.

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci waves after he is sworn in at the Parliament in Pristina, Kosovo, on April 7, 2016. Thaci and others were indicted Wednesday on 10 criminal counts at The Hague. File Photo by Valdrin Xhemaj

Thaci, Kosovo politician Kadri Veseli and others were indicted on 10 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, enforced disappearances, persecution and torture, the Kosovo Specialist Prosecutor’s Office announced.

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Prosecutors say hundreds of known victims, including Kosovo Albanians, Serbs, Roma and other ethnicities, as well as political opponents, died during the war due to actions by Thaci and the other defendants.

The Kosovo Specialist Chambers and its prosecutors office also accused Thaci and Veseli of carrying out “a secret campaign to overturn the law” that created The Hague court in 2010 as part of an agreement between Kosovo and the European Union.

Those efforts, prosecutors said, constitute an attempt “to ensure that they do not face justice.” They added that the pair “have put their personal interests ahead of the victims of their crimes, the rule of law, and all people of Kosovo.”

More than 100 people, mostly former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army, have been summoned for questioning as part of the investigation into potential war crimes committed during the war between 1998 and 1999, when Kosovo fought for independence from Serbia.

Thaci, a former KLA guerrilla, has denied the accusations.

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The indictments came Wednesday as Thaci was on his way to Washington, D.C., for a Saturday meeting with Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic at the White House that was arranged by U.S. Balkans envoy Richard Grenell.

ByDon Jacobson