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  1. #1
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    Klondyke's Avatar
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    Kosovo President charged with war crimes

    Kosovo President charged with war crimes cancels White House visit

    Thu June 25, 2020



    (CNN)Kosovan President Hashim Thaci has been indicted for war crimes allegedly committed during the Kosovo conflict in the late 1990s, leading him to cancel a planned trip to the White House this weekend for talks with Serbian leaders.

    The charges against Thaci were announced Wednesday by a special court at The Hague, in the Netherlands.

    According to a press statement, the Specialist Prosecutor's Office filed a 10-count indictment on April 24 that accuses Thaci, Kadri Veseli, the former Chairman of the Assembly of Kosovo, and others of "a range of crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, enforced disappearance of persons, persecution, and torture."

    It added that a pre-trial judge was reviewing the indictment "to decide on whether to confirm the charges."

    Kosovo declared independence from Serbia a decade after the bloody conflict between Serb forces and Kosovar-Albanian rebels began. The war, from 1998 to 1999, led to thousands of deaths and the displacement of nearly 90% of Kosovo's population.

    Thaci came to prominence as a leading figure in the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) between 1997 and 1999 and played a part in peace negotiations.

    His transition from a revolutionary into a politician eventually led to him to becoming Prime Minister when independence was declared. He was elected President in February 2016.

    Wednesday's indictment alleges that Thaci, Veseli and other charged suspects "are criminally responsible for nearly 100 murders. The crimes alleged in the Indictment involve hundreds of known victims of Kosovo Albanian, Serb, Roma, and other ethnicities and include political opponents," the statement said.

    CNN has reached out to the offices of Thaci and of Veseli, who is president of the Kosovo Democratic Party, for comment.
    Kosovo's Ambassador to the US Vlora Çitaku said in a tweet that "When the dust settles & the smoke clears, #KLA will remain the most successful liberation movement in modern history."

    The Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC) and Specialist Prosecutor's Office (SPO) was set up to have jurisdiction over war crimes committed in the Kosovo conflict between January 1998 and December 2000.

    Thaci was due to visit the White House for talks with Serbian representatives but canceled his trip following the SPO announcement, the US Special Presidential Envoy for Serbia and Kosovo Peace Negotiations, Richard Grenell, tweeted Wednesday.

    The United States is among more than 100 countries to recognize Kosovo as an independent, sovereign state, according to the US State Department. Serbia does not recognize Kosovo's independence.

    "I respect his decision not to attend the discussions until the legal issues of those allegations are settled," Grenell said. Saturday's discussions would be led by Kosovar Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, the US envoy added.

    However, Hoti -- who took office only three weeks ago -- said Thursday that he could not travel to Washington in light of developments in Pristina, Kosovo's capital.

    "Only through dialogue we can solve our disputes with Serbia, resulting on mutual recognition and normalization of relations. My Government does not comment issues related to the Special Chambers. Kosovo will fully respect its international obligations," he tweeted.

    The Kosovo government said in a statement that it "considers that no one should be considered guilty without a final decision by the Court" and urged all citizens to remain calm.

    "The Government believes that the war of the people of Kosovo and Kosovo Liberation Army was just and for its freedom and should therefore remain as the most important period of the country's history," the statement said.

    Thaci's official website confirmed that his trip to Washington had been canceled because of the indictment but made no comment with regards to the allegations against him.

    The SPO statement points out that the indictment is only an accusation -- but adds that it is "the result of a lengthy investigation and reflects the SPO's determination that it can prove all of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt."
    The SPO also states that it has gone public with the indictment because Thaci and Veseli have allegedly repeatedly attempted to "obstruct and undermine" the court's work.

    The two are "believed to have carried out a secret campaign to overturn the law creating the Court and otherwise obstruct the work of the Court in an attempt to ensure that they do not face justice. By taking these actions, (Thaci and Veseli) have put their personal interests ahead of the victims of their crimes, the rule of law, and all people of Kosovo," the statement said.

    Kosovo President Hashim Thaci charged with war crimes, cancels White House visit - CNN

  2. #2
    ความรู้ลึกลับ HuangLao's Avatar
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    And what of their Western underwriters?
    War criminals in their own right.
    Guess we just brush over the surface of real historical perspective.

    Always them.
    Never us.

  3. #3
    Thailand Expat
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    Although few media claims this came as a "surprise" it's no surprise at all...
    (there are not many world leaders who haven't met this bonhomme - further on after this presentation 10 years ago - I would not dare to paste here few pictures, there are so many to find, might be they will disappear soon...)

    Kosovo PM is head of human organ and arms ring, Council of Europe reports

    This article is more than 9 years old

    Two-year inquiry accuses Albanian 'mafia-like' crime network of killing Serb prisoners for their kidneys
    Paul Lewis in Pristina

    Kosovo's prime minister is the head of a "mafia-like" Albanian group responsible for smuggling weapons, drugs and human organs through eastern Europe, according to a Council of Europe inquiry report on organised crime.

    Hashim Thaçi is identified as the boss of a network that began operating criminal rackets in the runup to the 1998-99 Kosovo war, and has held powerful sway over the country's government since.

    The report of the two-year inquiry, which cites FBI and other intelligence sources, has been obtained by the Guardian. It names Thaçi as having over the last decade exerted "violent control" over the heroin trade. Figures from Thaçi's inner circle are also accused of taking captives across the border into Albania after the war, where a number of Serbs are said to have been murdered for their kidneys, which were sold on the black market.

    Legal proceedings began in a Pristina district court today into a case of alleged organ trafficking discovered by police in 2008. That case – in which organs are said to have been taken from impoverished victims at a clinic known as Medicus – is said by the report to be linked to Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) organ harvesting in 2000. It comes at a crucial period for Kosovo, which on Sunday held its first elections since declaring independence from Serbia in 2008. Thaçi claimed victory in the election and has been seeking to form a coalition with opposition parties.

    Dick Marty, the human rights investigator behind the inquiry, will present his report to European diplomats from all 47 member states at a meeting in Paris on Thursday. His report suggests Thaçi's links with organised crime date back more than a decade, when those loyal to his Drenica group came to dominate the KLA, and seized control of "most of the illicit criminal enterprises" in which Kosovans were involved south of the border, in Albania.

    During the Kosovo conflict Slobodan Miloševic's troops responded to attacks by the KLA by orchestrating a horrific campaign against ethnic Albanians in the territory. As many as 10,000 are estimated to have died at the hands of Serbian troops.

    While deploring Serb atrocities, Marty said the international community chose to ignore suspected war crimes by the KLA, "placing a premium instead on achieving some degree of short-term stability". He concludes that during the Kosovo war and for almost a year after, Thaçi and four other members of the Drenica group named in the report carried out "assassinations, detentions, beatings and interrogations". This same hardline KLA faction has held considerable power in Kosovo's government over the last decade, with the support of western powers keen to ensure stability in the fledgling state.

    The report paints a picture in which ex-KLA commanders have played a crucial role in the region's criminal activity. It says: "In confidential reports spanning more than a decade, agencies dedicated to combating drug smuggling in at least five countries have named Hashim Thaçi and other members of his Drenica group as having exerted violent control over the trade in heroin and other narcotics."

    Marty says: "Thaçi and these other Drenica group members are consistently named as 'key players' in intelligence reports on Kosovo's mafia-like structures of organised crime. I have examined these diverse, voluminous reports with consternation and a sense of moral outrage."

    His inquiry was commissioned after the former chief prosecutor for war crimes at the Hague, Carla Del Ponte, said she had been prevented from investigating senior KLA officials. Her most shocking claim, which she said required further investigation, was that the KLA smuggled captive Serbs across the border into Albania, where their organs were harvested.

    The report, which states that it is not a criminal investigation and unable to pronounce judgments of guilt or innocence, gives some credence to Del Ponte's claims.

    It finds the KLA did hold mostly Serb captives in a secret network of six detention facilities in northern Albania, and that Thaçi's Drenica group "bear the greatest responsibility" for prisons and the fate of those held in them.

    They include a "handful" of prisoners said to have been transferred to a makeshift prison just north of Tirana, where they were killed for their kidneys.

    The report states: "As and when the transplant surgeons were confirmed to be in position and ready to operate, the captives were brought out of the 'safe house' individually, summarily executed by a KLA gunman, and their corpses transported swiftly to the operating clinic.''

    The same Kosovan and foreign individuals involved in the macabre killings are linked to the Medicus case, the report finds.

    Marty is critical of the western powers which have provided a supervisory role in Kosovo's emergence as a state, for failing to hold senior figures, including Thaçi, to account. His report criticises "faltering political will on the part of the international community to effectively prosecute the former leaders of the KLA".

    It concludes: "The signs of collusion between the criminal class and the highest political and institutional office holders are too numerous and too serious to be ignored.

    "It is a fundamental right of Kosovo's citizens to know the truth, the whole truth, and also an indispensable condition for reconciliation between the communities and the country's prosperous future."

    If as expected the report is formally adopted by the committee this week, the findings will go before the parliamentary assembly next year.

    The Kosovo government tonight dismissed the allegations, claiming they were the produce of "despicable and bizarre actions by people with no moral credibility".

    "Today, the Guardian published an article that referred to a report from a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Dick Marty, which follows up on past reports published over the last 12 years aiming at maligning the war record of the Kosovo Liberation Army and its leaders," it said in a statement.

    "The allegations have been investigated several times by local and international judiciary, and in each case, it was concluded that such statements have were not based on facts and were construed to damage the image of Kosovo and the war of the Kosovo Liberation Army.

    "It is clear that someone wants to place obstacles in the way of prime minister, Hashim Thaçi, after the general election, in which the people of Kosovo placed their clear and significant trust in him to deliver the development programme and governance of our country.

    "Such despicable and bizarre actions by people with no moral credibility, serve the ends of only those specific circles that do not wish well to Kosovo and its people."

    • This article was amended on 15 December 2010. The original dated the Kosovo conflict to 1999 alone. This has been clarified.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/dec/14/kosovo-prime-minister-llike-mafia-boss

  4. #4
    Thailand Expat jabir's Avatar
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    If I give you a gun knowing you intend to kill someone with it and you do, I get done along with you, or something like that; but if I give you thousands of guns and you go slaughter a population, you achieve your goal, we both make a ton on the deal, and I protect you from prosecution, unless some future crew decide I acted wrong in which case they bust you but let me be. Bit weird, that.

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