EU allegations against Hashim Thaci no news for Kosovo Serbs

An explosive report that alleges Kosovo's prime minister has been behind a crime ring involved in drug and organ trafficking has been causing outrage throughout Europe, but it is nothing new to Serbs living in the region.

Vaselin has never spoken to the media before. He has been too angry. His brother went missing in the summer of 1998. No one has helped to find him.

“He went to work, as usual, with his friends, to the Belacevac mine and that was it, I never saw him again,” he said. “We went to the police and everyone else we could think of.”

”After the war, I thought there would be an exchange of prisoners, and hundreds of Albanians were freed, but so many Serbs are still missing,” Vaselin added. “Now after 12 years I have lost hope. All the international officials here did not do anything, when they easily could have.”

His brother is one of the near 2,400 people who went missing during and after the late-90s’ Kosovo War and are still unaccounted for.

Allegations leveled against senior members of the Kosovo Liberation Army, including Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, will not help to ease the minds of men like Vaselin.

“We heard about Dick Marty’s report on organ trafficking and Hashim Thaci, but this is all old news to us,” said another Kosovo Serb. “And I think all the international forces here knew as well, but didn’t want to deal with it.”

Many believe that the Western powers intentionally ignored KLA crimes.

“Everybody, including Western countries, has known all about these allegations for years, but they wanted to keep them hidden. They only cared that whoever was in charge here served their own interests,” said Kosovo community leader Marko Jaksic.

The European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) says it will now launch its own probe into the allegations.

“In general EULEX takes allegations on war crimes and other serious crimes very seriously, and should there be sufficient evidence and should we be responsible for dealing with them, we will certainly look into the issue,” said EULEX spokesperson Hans Christian Klassing. “As of now, it has not been decided yet which authority will deal with these allegations, but anybody who might have any evidence on this case shall come forwards and present [it] to the respective authorities which might well include EULEX.”

Hashim Thaci has dismissed the report as “baseless and defamatory” and has threatened to sue. It is another shocking twist in the history of this, already troubled, region.

NATO and EU peacekeeping and police cars keep guard 24 hours a day, each side of a bridge that divides the Serbian and Albanian parts of the city of Mitrovica. The town still suffers deep ethnic division ten years on from the Kosovo War. However, with the release of the report, people say they feel let down and abandoned by the international community charged with protecting them all these years.