Serbia/Kosovo: Start of ex-Kosovo president’s trial for war crimes “an important step along the long road to justice”
As the special war crimes tribunal begins in the Hague against former Kosovo president Hashim Thaçi and three other commanders of Kosovo’s Liberation Army (KLA) for their alleged responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity, Amnesty International’s Europe Director, Nils Muiznieks said:
“Today is an important step on the long road to justice, truth, and reparation for hundreds of victims of the Kosovo War who have waited almost two-and-a-half decades to find out the truth about the horrific crimes committed against them and their loved ones.
“That it has taken more than 10 years for any of those suspected of criminal responsibility to be brought to court has allowed a culture of impunity for war crimes committed during the Kosovo War to persist. This trial sends a clear message that senior officials are not above the law.”
Upon the confirmation of the indictment against him in 2020, President Thaçi resigned from office effective immediately.
The charges include those of war crimes and crimes against humanity; including criminal responsibility for nearly 100 murders with victims belonging to Serb and Roma ethnic groups, as well as people of Kosovo Albanian ethnicity, including political opponents.
The Kosovo Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office (SPO) was established in 2015 following a report by an EU Task Force that pointed to compelling evidence of systemic war crimes committed by KLA leadership, including a “campaign of persecution” against Serbs, Roma, and Kosovo Albanians during and immediately after the 1998-1999 armed conflict.