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Mustafa Appears Before Kosovo War Crimes Court

Salih Mustafa is questioned in the Kosovo Specialist Chambers in The Hague on September 28.

The former head of the intelligence service of the Kosovo Security Force has made his initial appearance on charges of war crime at a court in The Hague.

Salih Mustafa declined on September 28 to enter a plea before the Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC).

"I will consult my lawyer before I do," Mustafa said when asked by pretrial Judge Nicolas Guillou if he would like to enter a plea.

He has 30 days to enter a plea.

Mustafa was arrested on September 24 at his home on the outskirts of Kosovo's capital, Prishtina.

He is the first ethnic Albanian to be arrested on war crimes charges arising from the 1990s conflict.

The Hague-based KSC is mandated to look into allegations that members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) committed war crimes and crimes against humanity during the 1998-99 war to gain independence from Serbia.

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

Mustafa's assigned counsel, Julius Von Boné, said he may challenge the legality and jurisdiction of the court.

"The fact that we are standing here today obviously does not mean that the defense accepts the establishment of the court as such," he said.

Boné said he will be representing Mustafa during the entire duration of the proceedings.