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Kosovo President resigns after being indicted for crimes against humanity



           


Hashim Thaçi resigns as president of Kosovo (photo: Kosovo Presidency)
Hashim Thaçi resigns as president of Kosovo (photo: Kosovo Presidency)
KOSOVO. Hashim Thaçi has been incarcerated since the night of Thursday 5 to Friday 6 November 2020 in Scheveningen prison, near The Hague in the Netherlands. The President of Kosovo has been charged by the Special Court for Kosovo (KSC) with ten counts including crimes against humanity and war crimes (around 100 murders, enforced disappearances, persecution and torture) committed during the conflict against Serbian forces from 1998 to 1999. He went there himself on Thursday 5 November 2020.

Fifty-two year old Hashim Thaçi must answer before the Hague courts for his actions as political leader of the KLA (Ushtria Çlirimtare e Kosovës), the Kosovo Liberation Army, an Albanian-speaking guerrilla group that opposed Slobodan's Serbs Milošević. He had been indicted by the KSC prosecutor on 24 April 2020, but the decision was not revealed until two months later. It had moreover put an end to the process of discussions with Serbia which was preparing to restart after two years at a standstill. The agreement between the two countries is one of the sine qua non conditions for their entry into the European Union.

Resignation to "protect Kosovo"

At the end of June 2020, the President rejected the grounds for his indictment outright, stating "the only law I have violated is that of Milošević." He also announced that he did not want to "face justice from (his) office. If the indictment is upheld, I will resign from the presidency immediately and face these charges". Duly noted!
"The indictment against me and my brothers in arms is a small price to pay for the freedom of our people," the Kosovar president commented. Three founding members of the KLA are also in the dock: Kadri Veseli, its former head of intelligence, Rexhep Selimi, former commander, and Jakup Krasniqi, former spokesman.

Hashim Thaçi has decided to resign from his supreme office to "protect the integrity of the office of president and Kosovo, as well as the dignity of its citizens". Vjosa Osmani, President of the National Assembly of Kosovo since 3 February 2020, will now assume the role of interim president.

Ramuj Haradinaj, former Prime Minister and Hashim Thaçi's comrade-in-arms in the KLA, also resigned in July 2019 after being indicted for war crimes by the former International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), also based in The Hague, after a first acquittal.

A country of less than 2 million people, Kosovo self-proclaimed independence from Serbia in February 2008. Belgrade still considers it as one of its autonomous provinces under the name of Kosovo and Metohia. Kosovo is recognised neither by the UN (undetermined status) nor by the European Union (even though 22 member states have done so).


Frédéric Dubessy


Friday, November 6th 2020



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