The former president of Kosovo Hashim Thaci, accused of war crimes during the conflict against serbian forces, pleaded not guilty this Monday during his first appearance before a special court in The Hague, in the Netherlands.
The Hague-based Prosecutor’s Office of the Special Court for Kosovo charged Kosovar President Hashim Thaci with ten counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged responsibility in nearly a hundred murders during the last war (1998-1999).
“The indictment contends that Hashim Thaci, Kadri Veseli (a Kosovar political leader) and other accused suspects are criminally responsible for nearly 100 murders. The alleged crimes cited in the indictment affect hundreds of known Kosovar Albanian, Serbian, Gypsy and other victims. ethnic groups and include political rivals, “said the Special Prosecutor’s Office in a statement published this Wednesday.
Denies the accusations
“The accusation it’s completely unfounded and I plead not guilty to all charges, “said Thaçi, who appeared before a TEK investigating judge in The Hague after resigning from his post as president last Thursday. The former president said he” disagrees “with the brief from the Prosecutor’s Office and his lawyer, David Hooper, defined the accusations as “nonsense” which “appear to be a collection of incidents already tried in the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia or in courts of Kosovo.”
“We will show during the legal process that all these allegations are false, vigorously false,” added the lawyer. Thaçi spent most of the appearance with a serious face and, at the beginning of the hearing, complained that the translation from English to Albanian he was receiving “was wrong”.
The former Kosovar president is indicted along with three other former UCK leaders –Kadri Veseli, Rexhep Selimi and Jasup Krasniqi– four war crimes and six crimes against humanity, including torture, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance and the murder of about 100 people. According to the indictment, the four suspects formed a “joint criminal enterprise” whose objective was “to gain and exercise control over the whole of Kosovo by means that included illegal intimidation, mistreatment, committing acts of violence and expelling those considered opponents “.
Thaci, along with the other defendants, would have “carried out a widespread or systematic attack against the civilian population “ and the victims were Serbs, Roma, Ashkali and Catholics, as well as civilians who were seen collaborating with the Serbian authorities or who did not join or support the UCK. The murders were allegedly committed during torture committed in UCK detention centers and when the guerrillas withdrew from places under their control due to the advance of Serbian troops.