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Kosovo War Crimes Prosecutor Pledges Impartial Probe

David Schwendiman (file photo)

David Schwendiman (file photo)

The chief prosecutor for a special tribunal being set up to try crimes arising out of the late 1990s Kosovo conflict has pledged to carry out his investigations "without fear or favor."

David Schwendiman, a former U.S. federal prosecutor, said on September 15 in The Hague, Netherlands, that he was "aware of the political sensitivity of what I am doing," but stressed he would "be guided only by the facts and the law."

Schwendiman was appointed this month as lead prosecutor at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers that is being set up in The Hague to investigate and eventually prosecute allegations that senior members of the Kosovo Liberation Army, including Kosovo's current president, Hashim Thaci, ran detention centers where captives were killed and their organs sold on the black market during Kosovo's 1998-99 war for independence from Serbia.

Thaci denies the claims.

The tribunal will operate under Kosovo law, but use international judges and prosecutors.

The court's registrar, Fidelma Donlon, said it aimed to begin "judicial activity" in the first half of 2017, adopting rules of procedure and evidence before Schwendiman can bring formal charges.

Donlon said the court was still in the process of appointing the judges who will determine those rules.

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters