Serbia/Kosovo: Confirmed indictment of Kosovo’s President for war crimes brings victims one step closer to long-awaited justice

Following the Hague-based Special Prosecutor’s Office confirmation of the indictment against Kosovo’s president Hashim Thaçi and three other commanders of Kosovo’s Liberation Army (KLA) for their alleged responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity, Amnesty International’s Balkans Researcher, Jelena Sesar said:

“The indictment brings hope for hundreds of victims of the Kosovo war who have waited for more than two decades to find out the truth about the horrific crimes committed against them and their loved ones. Charges, which are the first for the Special Prosecutor’s Office, show that senior officials are not above the law.

The indictment brings hope for thousands of victims of the Kosovo war who have waited for decades to find out the truth about the horrific crimes committed against them and their loved ones
Amnesty International, Jelena Sesar

“The evidence of war crimes committed by KLA leadership, including a sustained campaign of persecution of Serbs, Roma and political opponents among Kosovo Albanians, appears to be compelling. Some of the allegations included the involvement in arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearance, torture and mistreatment of detainees and killings of opponents.

Any attempt to obstruct justice, truth and reparation will not be tolerated and that the victims and relatives of the missing will finally see those suspected of responsibility stand trial
Jelena Sesar, Amnesty International

“That it has taken almost 10 years for any of those suspected of criminal responsibility to be brought to court has allowed a culture of impunity for war crimes committed during the Kosovo war (1998-1999) to persist. This indictment gives hope that any attempt to obstruct justice, truth and reparation will not be tolerated and that the victims and relatives of the missing will finally see those suspected of responsibility stand trial.”

BACKGROUND

Upon the confirmation of the indictment, President Thaçi resigned from office effective immediately.

The indictment includes charges for war crimes and crimes against humanity; including criminal responsibility for nearly one hundred murders with victims belonging to Serb, Roma, as well as people of Kosovo Albanian ethnicity, including political opponents.

The Kosovo Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office (SPO) was established in 2015 following a report by an EU Task Force that pointed to compelling evidence of systemic war crimes committed by KLA leadership, including a “campaign of persecution” against Serbs, Roma and Kosovo Albanians during and immediately after the 1998-1999 armed conflict.

The 2011 Council of Europe report accused senior KLA leaders, including President Thaçi, of responsibility for abductions, torture and summary executions.