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5 Nov, 2020 12:37

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci resigns to face war crimes charges at The Hague

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci resigns to face war crimes charges at The Hague

Kosovo’s president, Hashim Thaci, has resigned and is set to face the International Criminal Court in The Hague, after an indictment charging him with crimes against humanity and war crimes was confirmed in court.

“As I promised I will not go before the court as President of Kosovo,” Thaci said during a Thursday press conference in Kosovo’s capital, Pristina. The leader explained his pre-trial resignation, saying he wishes to avoid harming “the integrity of the Kosovo presidency, the state of Kosovo and the people of Kosovo.”

The indictment was filed in June by the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office. It included not only the president, but several other former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) members turned-politicians, including Kadri Veseli, leader of the Democratic Party.

KLA was an ethnically Albanian guerrilla group, which fought Serbian control and sought to separate Kosovo from Yugoslavia and Serbia in the 1990s. It was active through the 90s and the 2000s, until Kosovo declared independence in 2008. 

At that time, Thaci’s nom de guerre was ‘the Snake’, for his ability to evade authorities. While a KLA commander, the future president was allegedly involved in assassinating Kosovar politicians and military officers, for which Pristina’s District court sentenced him in absentia to 10 years in prison in 1997.

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Prosecutors accuse Thaci of being responsible for almost 100 murders. The head of Kosovo’s parliament will take over as acting president until a new leader can be elected.

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