Kosovo's president indicted on war crimes charges

Kosovo's President Hashim Thaçi has been indicted by a special court for Kosovo in The Hague. The former commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army (UÇK) and nine other former separatists are accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed during the war of independence of the then Serbian province in 1998/1999.

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Der Standard (AT) /

Thaçi betrayed the Kosovars long ago

Thaçi's highest goal is not to have to answer for his past, comments Balkan correspondent Adelheid Wölfl in Der Standard:

“The president's reaction was defiant and clumsy. After the public prosecutor's office published a comprehensive indictment on war crimes against the Kosovar head of state Hashim Thaçi on Wednesday, he posted the emblem of the Kosovo Liberation Army UÇK on Facebook. Although a judge must first confirm the charges, Thaçi should have immediately resigned as president. The former UÇK commander has long held his country hostage to its wartime past. To avoid going to court, he is even prepared to hand over North Kosovo - an unconstitutional step - to Serbia, thereby abandoning the idea of a multinational state. Thaçi betrayed the Kosovars long ago.”

Il Manifesto (IT) /

Accomplices in Nato

A trial against Thaçi alone is not enough, Il Manifesto comments:

“After 20 years the monstrous truth has finally come to light. But there is a danger that it will remain just a useless half-truth if the role of this Balkan criminal is not fully investigated. ... From the end of 1998 - after only a few months earlier the US Congress had classified the UÇK as 'terrorist' - until 1999 and in the years to come, Hashim Thaçi was the Atlantic Alliance's privileged interlocutor. The question at this point is do the Western leaders who were in favour of the 'humanitarian' war that accredited the butcher Thaçi as a statesman really have nothing to say or do now that they are de facto accomplices to his crimes? Do they want to keep their skeletons hidden in the cellar?”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

How free from influence is the court?

The Neue Zürcher Zeitung wonders just how independent the special court is:

“Thaçi's fight against the judiciary probably explains the deliberate timing of the announcement of the indictment. By torpedoing his trip to Washington, the judges prevented Thaçi from securing impunity there. The Kosovo special court is an institution under Kosovar law. It is run by foreign judges, funded by the EU and based in The Hague. So it should be safe from local pressure. Whether it is just as independent from the influence of European powers is another matter, however.”