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Indicted Kosovar President Accuses International Judiciary Of Attempt To 'Rewrite History'

Kosovar President Hashim Thaci (file photo)
Kosovar President Hashim Thaci (file photo)

Kosovar President Hashim Thaci, indicted this week for war crimes and crimes against humanity, has accused the international justice system of attempting to rewrite history.

In his first comments since being indicted along with several others for offenses allegedly committed during or after the Kosovo conflict in the late 1990s, Thaci said on June 26 that he was returning to Kosovo after cutting short a trip to Washington and will address the nation in two days.

"Nobody can rewrite the history of Kosovo," he wrote in both English and Albanian in a post on Instagram.

The former Serbian province declared independence in 2008 -- a move Serbia, Russia, and a handful of European Union member states refuse to recognize.

Thaci was a commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK), an ethnic Albanian guerrilla group that fought against Belgrade's security forces in the 1998-99 war.

On June 24, the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office (SPO) said in a statement that Thaci and other suspects were "criminally responsible for nearly 100 murders," as well as the "enforced disappearance of persons, persecution, and torture."

The alleged crimes involved "hundreds of known victims of Kosovo Albanian, Serb, Roma, and other ethnicities and include political opponents," according to the SPO.

Thaci has previously denied involvement in any war crimes.

The Kosovar president had been scheduled to meet with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic at the White House on June 27 for talks aimed at leading to a normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia.

Vucic said from Brussels on June 26 that Belgrade would show restraint in its response to the news.

"For us, the most important thing is to be restrained. We know terrible crimes have happened. In everyting else, we have to show restraint and by it, we will be protecting Serbs in Kosovo from any kind of violence, incidents, and attacks," Vucic said.

A 10-count indictment against Thaci and several other unidentified suspects was filed with the Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC) in The Hague on April 24, but the prosecutor only decided to unveil them publicly two months later.

Prosecutors said the charges resulted from a "lengthy investigation" and they were confident they can prove "all charges beyond a reasonable doubt."

A KSC pretrial judge is currently reviewing the indictment to decide on whether to confirm the charges.

The prosecutor accused Thaci of repeated efforts "to obstruct and undermine the work" of the tribunal.

Kosovo was part of Serbia until an armed uprising by the ethnic Albanian majority population in 1998-99 triggered a Serbian crackdown.

The conflict ended following a 78-day NATO bombing campaign to force Serbian troops out of Kosovo.

The war left more than 10,000 dead and over 1,600 are still unaccounted for.

The KSC was established in 2015 to investigate crimes committed during and after the war in Kosovo.

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