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Kosovo President Hashim Thaci Indicted on War Crimes Charges


FILE - Kosovo's President Hashim Thaci attends a ceremony of security forces, in Pristina, Kosovo, Dec. 13, 2018.
FILE - Kosovo's President Hashim Thaci attends a ceremony of security forces, in Pristina, Kosovo, Dec. 13, 2018.

A Hague-based special prosecutor indicted Kosovo President Hashim Thaci and nine others Wednesday on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes committed during Kosovo's war for independence.

The Special Prosecutor’s Office said the 10 suspects were “criminally responsible for nearly 100 murders” along with forced disappearances, torture and persecution of hundreds of others including Kosovo Albanians, Serbs and Roma.

The office said in a statement the indictment “is the result of a lengthy investigation and reflects the SPO’s determination that it can prove all of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.”

A special pretrial judge will review the indictment and decide whether to confirm the charges.

A U.S. State Department official said Wednesday’s announcement of the indictments was “20 years in the making” and “a step forward in the justice and reconciliation process in the Western Balkans … essential to advance the rule of law and justice for victims in Kosovo, as well as to move the country beyond this terrible period and join the Euro-Atlantic community."

The Kosovo Specialist Chamber and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office were formally established in 2016 in the Hague. They operate under Kosovo law but are funded by the European Union and staffed by international judges and prosecutors.

Just after the indictment was announced, Thaci canceled plans to come to the White House later this week for a summit with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. Kosovo’s Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti said Thursday he canceled his trip as well.

The talks were aimed at ending the 12-year diplomatic stalemate between Serbia and Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008 following a bloody guerrilla war.

Serbia has never recognized an independent Kosovo, and NATO peacekeepers are deployed in Kosovo to prevent any flare-ups.

Replying to a question from VOA’s Serbian service, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg had called the White House meeting an opportunity to restart dialogue between all parties by “making a real effort to find a political solution for the situation in Kosovo."

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