Kosovo Guerrilla Leaders Plead Innocent to Fresh War Crime Charges

Kosovo Guerrilla Leaders Plead Innocent to Fresh War Crime Charges

Hashim Thaci in the courtroom in The Hague in November 2020. Photo: EPA-EFE/JERRY LAMPEN.

Kosovo’s former President Hashim Thaci and previous head of parliament Kadri Veseli pleaded not responsible at a pre-demo listening to on Tuesday to new costs submitted by war crimes prosecutors at the Kosovo Expert Chambers in The Hague.

“I plead not guilty while I have not study the [amended] material… Your amendments are redacted, I have attempted to go through them but I couldn’t so I have not comprehended them. In any case I plead not responsible,” Thaci informed the court.

Veseli also reported he is pleading not responsible and questioned the court docket for a swift start out to the demo process.

“I have read [the amendments] and I wish the trial commences soon so I have the correct to categorical my place and innocence prior to Kosovo citizens, KLA fighters and this honourable court docket,” Veseli reported.

Previous 7 days, the Kosovo Specialist Prosecutor’s Office added fresh war criminal offense fees to the indictment of Thaci, Veseli and two other wartime KLA leaders turned politicians who have been awaiting demo in detention in The Hague considering the fact that November 2020.

The up-to-date indictment claims that among July 1998 and September 1998 and around April 28 or 29, 1999, sure KLA associates detained at least 12 people today with out owing process of law in the village of Budakova/Budakovo in Kosovo’s southern municipality of Suhareka/Suva Reka.

“Detainees, who have been held for varying durations of time, were being bodily restrained, and held in locked rooms and beneath armed guard. Instantly following detention in Budakova/Budakovo, at least one of the detainees was transferred to Semetishta/Semetiste and also detained there concerning around 19 to 20 August 1998,” the updated indictment states.

“Detainees have been strike all above their bodies. Detainees, like at least one LDK [Democratic League of Kosovo political party] supporter, were being interrogated about and accused of associating, collaborating, or helping Serbs and Serbian authorities,” it provides.

The updated indictment also claims that in late June and July 1999, specified KLA customers detained at minimum three individuals without having thanks system of regulation at a guerrilla headquarters found in a former boarding school and dormitory in the eastern city of Gjilan/Gnjilane and subjected them to serious beatings and psychological abuse.

Thaci and Veseli are accused along with the former head of the parliamentary team of the Vetevendosje Movement party, Rexhep Selimi, and the chairman of the national council of the Social Democratic Initiative (NISMA) get together, Jakup Krasniqi, who also were being senior KLA leaders through 1998-99 war.

The indictment includes ten counts and lists their alleged offences as “war crimes of illegal or arbitrary arrest and detention, cruel treatment method, torture, and murder, and the crimes against humanity of imprisonment, other inhumane functions, torture, murder, enforced disappearance of folks, and persecution”.

It suggests that the crimes have been dedicated “from at the very least March 1998 via September 1999”. All four males were being senior figures in the KLA all through the war and Thaci was the guerrilla organisation’s political leader.

Thaci, Veseli, Selimi, and Krasniqi are accused of remaining responsible for crimes fully commited by on their own and other previous members of the KLA in several pieces of Kosovo but also in northern Albania, “against hundreds of civilians and individuals not getting section in hostilities”.

Most of the crimes were committed in detention centres in 17 municipalities in Kosovo and two districts of Albania, Kukes and Has.

The Kosovo Professional Chambers ended up set up to attempt crimes allegedly dedicated all through and just just after the Kosovo war from 1998 to 2000. They are aspect of Kosovo’s judicial system but located in the Netherlands and staffed by internationals.

They have been established up below force from Kosovo’s Western allies, who feared that Kosovo’s justice program was not robust plenty of to try KLA situations and protect witnesses from interference.

The so-termed ‘special court’ is commonly resented by Kosovo Albanians who see it as an insult to the KLA’s war for liberation from Serbian rule.