Trial of former Kosovo President Hashim Thaci gets underway in The Hague

Kosovo’s former president, Hashim Thaci, has pleaded not guilty to 10 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity as his trial got underway Monday at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers in The Hague.

Thaci, who served as commander-in-chief of the ethnic Albanian rebel Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), is accused together with three others of crimes committed during the 1998 to 1999 armed conflict against Serbian forces.

These include persecution, imprisonment, illegal or arbitrary arrest and detention, other inhumane acts, cruel treatment, torture, murder, and enforced disappearance of persons.

Kadri Veseli, Rexhep Selimi, and Jakup Krasniqi, all former KLA leaders, have also pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The insurgency eventually brought independence for Kosovo, which up until then had been a province of Serbia, and made Thaci a hero among his compatriots.

It’s estimated that some 13,000 people died, most of them from Kosovo’s 90 per cent ethnic Albanian majority, during the insurgency.

The war ended in 1999 when NATO bombed the Serbian capital, Belgrade, to stop the killings and expulsions of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo by Serb forces.

Kosovo declared its independence in 2008, a move which Serbia has refused to recognise.

Following the war, Thaci and his three co-defendants took up prominent positions in the government. He served as president from 2016, but resigned in 2020 following his indictment.

On Sunday, thousands of people took to the streets in Kosovo in a show of solidarity for the four men.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *