Hashim Thaçi, 52, a former leader of the KLA separatist rebellion, has dominated Kosovo’s political life for two decades.
“As I promised, I will not allow myself to appear before the Court as President of the Republic of Kosovo under any circumstances,” he told a news conference.
“Consequently, in order to defend the integrity of the office of President of Kosovo and the dignity of the citizens, I am resigning as President of the Republic of Kosovo,” he said.
Hashim Thaçi has always proclaimed his innocence in the 1998-1999 War and accuses international justice of “rewriting history.” Most Kosovo residents see the conflict as a “just war” against Serbian oppression.
“These are not easy times for me and my family and for those who have supported and believed in me in these last three decades of struggle for freedom, independence and nation building,” he added.
His indictment for murder, disappearance, persecution and torture was made public in June.
Announcing the confirmation of this indictment by a judge, Hashim Thaçi did not specify which charges were detained. He promised, however, “to work closely with the judiciary.”
His close ally Kadri Veseli, the former director of the Kosovo guerrilla intelligence services, also announced on Thursday the confirmation of his indictment by the Hague Tribunal.
The KSC is a Kosovo court of law composed of international judges tasked with investigating crimes committed by the KLA during and after the 1998-1999 conflict, mainly targeting Serbs, Roma and Kosovo opponents of the guerrillas.
This court is based in the Netherlands in order to protect witnesses who are under pressure and threats.
The latest conflict in the former Yugoslavia, the Kosovo war between Serbian forces and the Kosovo Albanian separatist guerrillas, has left more than 13,000 dead, most of them Albanians. It ended after a Western bombing campaign forced Serbian forces to withdraw.