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Special Kosovo War Crimes Court To Open In The Hague

The Dutch government says a special EU-backed court is being established in The Hague to try crimes allegedly committed by ethnic Albanian guerrillas during the Kosovo war.

"The court will try serious crimes allegedly committed in 1999-2000 by members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) against ethnic minorities and political opponents," the Dutch Foreign Ministry said in a January 15 statement.

The EU says Kosovo must confront allegations of war crimes committed by the UCK against ethnic Serbs during and immediately following the conflict if the country is to integrate further with the 28-member bloc.

The new court, set to open later this year, will maintain a roster of international judges but will be part of Kosovo's judicial system.

Kosovo declared independence almost a decade after NATO went to war in 1999 to halt the killing and expulsion of ethnic Albanian civilians by Serbian forces trying to crush an insurgency. Belgrade rejects its independence declaration.

Some 10,000 people are estimated to have died during the conflict, most of them ethnic Albanians.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters