Kosovo’s Thaci, at war crimes court, says ‘nobody can rewrite history’
Kosovo President Hashim Thaci arrived on Monday for questioning by war crimes prosecutors in The Hague for the first time, saying that “nobody can rewrite history” over his role in the 1990s war.
Thaci was indicted by a special tribunal in late June for war crimes and crimes against humanity investigating the 1998-99 conflict with Serbia that won the province its independence.
Thaci and others are charged with being “criminally responsible for nearly 100 murders” in addition to other crimes against Serb, Roma and Kosovo Albanian victims while he was leader of the rebel Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).
“I am ready to face the new challenge and succeed for my son, my family, my people and my country,” Thaci told reporters outside the Specialist Kosovo Chambers, where banner-waving supporters had gathered.
“Nobody can rewrite history. This is a price of freedom.”
President since 2016 and prime minister before that, in recent years Thaci has taken part in talks aimed at normalising ties with Serbia, which still rejects the independence of its former province.
“Kosovo is a success story, I am very proud,” Thaci said before entering the heavily secured court building.
“I believe in peace through reconciliation and justice. I believe in dialogue and relations with all nations.”
A judge will decide later this year whether to formally charge Thaci, Kosovo’s most powerful politician.
He has previously said that he would resign if the charges are confirmed, insisting that he was innocent and saying on Sunday before his departure for The Hague that “our war was clean and just.”
The Kosovo conflict, which claimed about 13,000 lives, was only ended when NATO forces launched a bombing campaign against Serbia that forced them to quit the territory.