Kosovo’s president, Hashim Thaci, a guerrilla leader during the country’s war for independence from Serbia in the 1990s, has resigned to face charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in a special court based in The Hague.
Thatchi announced his resignation at a press conference in Pristina, the capital of Kosovo. He said he was taking this step “to protect the integrity of the Kosovo presidency.”
He was charged with an indictment by a special court in Kosovo, based in The Hague, Netherlands, which was created to try the alleged crimes of former Albanian rebel leaders. A spokesman for the attorney general said in court he had no comment.
Thatchi is one of many politicians convicted of crimes including murder, enforced disappearance, persecution and torture.
Among them is also former Parliament Speaker Kadri Veseli, who has also said that he has issued an indictment by the pre-trial judge and that he plans to travel to The Hague on Thursday.
The court and the associated Special Prosecutor’s Office, which was established five years ago, accused three other former commanders of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), who fought for independence from Serbia.
The exact details of the 10-count indictment against Thatchi, Vasili, and others have not been released. The specialist attorney general’s office announced the existence of the indictment earlier this year that Thatchi and others were “criminally responsible for nearly 100 murders.”
At the time, the prosecutor’s office said it had made public the indictment’s existence due to what it described as repeated efforts by Thachi and Vasili to “obstruct and undermine” the court’s work, adding that it believed they had tried to overturn the indictment. Kosovo law that established the court.
The formation of the court and the Office of the Prosecutor followed a 2011 report by the Council of Europe, an international human rights organization, which included allegations that KLA fighters trafficked human organs taken from prisoners and killed Serbs and their Albanian colleagues.
The court is mandated to investigate and prosecute allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Kosovo, or related to the Kosovo conflict, from 1998 to 2000.
The 1998-1999 war for independence from Serbia ended 78 days after NATO’s air campaign against Serbian forces.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, something Serbia has not yet recognized.