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Thaci: Talks with Hague prosecutors 'price of freedom'

July 13, 2020

Kosovo President Thaci has spoken to prosecutors in The Hague after he was indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Addressing reporters, Thaci once again insisted he had done nothing wrong.

Hashim Thaci talks to the media in The Hague
Image: DW/A. Bajrami

Thaci arrived for questioning by war crimes prosecutors in The Hague on Monday, saying that "nobody can rewrite history" over his role in the 1998-99 conflict with Serbia that won Kosovo its de-facto independence.

His arrival was greeted by a small group of chanting supporters, who held up signs and chanted his name as he entered the Kosovo Specialist Chambers.

Thaci, who is attending voluntarily, has said he wants to prove that he broke no international rules in the armed conflict between separatists from the Kosovo Liberation Army and Serbia.

"Today I am here to respect what I dreamt and fought for, a free independent Kosovo based on equal rights, multi-ethnic society and rule of law," Thaci told reporters outside the Kosovo Specialist Chambers.

"I am ready to face the new challenge and succeed for my son, my family, my people, and my country. Nobody can rewrite history. This is a price of freedom."

The Kosovo president and others face 10 counts of "crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, enforced disappearance of persons, persecution, and torture."

Read more: EU: Serbia-Kosovo talks 'back on track' after video meeting

Decision on charges

Thaci and the other defendants are accused of being "criminally responsible for nearly 100 murders." He has dismissed the accusations but says he will resign if he is formally charged.

A pre-trial judge will decide later this year whether to confirm or reject the charges.

With its majority Albanian population, Kosovo had been a province of Serbia before the Albanians rebelled against Belgrade's rule. A series of guerrilla attacks quickly expanded into a war that was marked by a brutal crackdown by Serbian forces.

More than 10,000 people died in the Kosovo conflict, most of them ethnic Albanians. The fighting ended after a 78-day NATO air campaign in 1999 that forced Serbian troops to retreat.

Thaci has been president since 2016 having previously served as prime minister. In recent years he has taken part in talks aimed at normalizing ties with Serbia, which still rejects Kosovo's independence.

Read more: A Cold War solution for Serbia and Kosovo?

 rc/kw (AP, AFP)