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Kosovo War Crimes Suspect Arrested In Belgium

The Kosovo Specialist Chambers operates under Kosovar law but is based in the Netherlands to shield witnesses from intimidation.

Belgian authorities have arrested a war crimes suspect under an indictment issued by The Hague-based Kosovo tribunal.

The Kosovo Specialist Chambers said that Pjeter Shala was detained in Belgium on March 16, pending his transfer to The Hague.

The Kosovo tribunal gave no details on the indictment but said more information would be provided later.

Shala is a former commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK).

The Kosovo Specialist Chambers was established to investigate allegations that members of the UCK committed war crimes and crimes against humanity during the 1998-99 Kosovo War.

It operates under Kosovar law but is based in the Netherlands to shield witnesses from intimidation.

Among the other defendants facing trial are former Kosovar President Hashim Thaci; Kadri Veseli, a former speaker of parliament and leader of the Democratic Party of Kosovo; Rexhep Selimi, a Kosovar lawmaker; and Jakup Krasniqi, another former speaker of parliament.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, a decade after a war between ethnic Albanian rebels and Serbian forces, which ended after a 78-day NATO air campaign drove Serbian troops out and an international peacekeeping force moved in.

The conflict left more than 10,000 people dead -- most of them ethnic Albanians from Kosovo. More than 1,600 people remain unaccounted for.

Kosovo, which has a largely ethnic Albanian population, is recognized by many Western states but not Serbia or its allies Russia and China.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, and RFE/RL's Balkan Service
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