Kosovo Special Prosecutor charges Thaci and Veseli with the murder of nearly 100 people

Specijalni sud Hag
FOTO: KoSSev

The Kosovo Special Prosecutor filed an indictment with the Kosovo Specialist Chambers against Kosovo President, Hashim Thaci and the President of the PDK and one of the most influential politicians in Kosovo – Kadri Veseli. There are now only four months left from the six-month statutory deadline of April 24th for the pre-trial judge to confirm or dismiss the indictment. The Special Prosecutor’s Office announced the news today in a press release, also accusing the two officials of obstructing and undermining the work of this court. The Special Prosecutor’s Office also added that Thaci and Veseli carried out a secret campaign to overturn the law creating the court.

For the past several months, there have been announcements that the first two indictments for war crimes that took place in Kosovo from January 1998 – to December 2000 would be revealed in July. One of the indictments was filed in February, the other in April. Until today, however, the identity of the first accused persons was unknown to the public.

According to the indictment, Thaci, Veseli and other persons, whose names have not been announced today, are charged with „a range of crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, enforced disappearance of persons, persecution, and torture.“

The indictment alleges that they 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 Court’s announcement arrives just ahead of Thaci’s departure for Washington, where he would be accompanied by Avdullah Hoti at the Rose Garden to meet the Serbian delegation led by the Serbian President, Aleksandar Vucic on 27th June.

The Kosovo President, however, has just canceled his Washington trip, confirmed by both Richard Grennell and himself.

Even before that, the Kosovo public speculated that Veseli had been interrogated in Ljubljana earlier. These allegations were made by former deputies in the Kosovo Assembly, Milaim Zeka and Rada Trajkovic.

So far, this court questioned hundreds of former KLA members. The month of July marks the end of the six-month-long deadline for the first indictment to be confirmed or dismissed. The content of the indictment is confidential. It will be published only if the suspicions of the pre-trial judge are confirmed. This has been the only information available so far.

The leader of the PDK and one of the former key figures in the KLA, Kadri Veseli has already been questioned by the Special Prosecutor on December 4th of last year. Veseli himself confirmed this at a press conference.

Also, it was speculated in the public that Thaci was also questioned, which he denied on several occasions.

The Special Prosecutor’s Office for Kosovo War Crimes questioned hundreds of people since November 2018. According to Kosovo media, only 250 former members of the KLA were questioned or summoned for questioning by the end of last year, including dozens of high-ranking members of the former KLA, who now hold top political or institutional positions.

In early June, some Kosovo media reported, citing the Facebook status of a former adviser to Kadri Veseli, Blerim Latifi, that the Special Prosecutor of the Specialist Chambers, Jack Smith would resign to join the US presidential campaign. These media outlets also reported that the filing of indictments would be postponed until next year – until a new prosecutor is appointed. However, on the same day, June 8th, the spokesman of this court, Christopher Bennett denied these allegations in a statement for the KoSSev portal.

The Specialist Chambers for War Crimes of Members of the Former Kosovo Liberation Army was established to prosecute crimes committed during and after the armed conflicts in Kosovo in the period from 1998 to 2000.

The court is part of the Kosovo judicial system, but the trials will take place in The Hague, the Netherlands. The court will deal with crimes committed by KLA members against civilians, Kosovo Serbs, but also members of other communities, as well as Albanians who allegedly cooperated with the regime of the Republic of Serbia.

One of the court’s most important tasks will be to shed light on the allegations presented in the report of the Council of Europe Special Rapporteur, Dick Marty, adopted in January 2011.

In Marty’s report, the KLA leadership, including current Kosovo President Hashim Thaci, were accused of involvement in „human organ trafficking, abduction and ill-treatment of prisoners“ during the Kosovo conflict.

Ever since it was established in 2015, the former KLA members, i.e. Kosovo officials and institutions, have been criticizing and attempting to obstruct the work of this court. The Kosovo public was recently alarmed over the statement of the now former Kurti’s adviser, Shkelzen Gashi that some members of the KLA committed crimes. Gashi’s statement was harshly condemned, which resulted in Gashi’s dismissal from the post of Kurti’s adviser.

As Radio Free Europe recently reported, according to the Constitutional Amendment of Kosovo from 2015, on the basis of which the Specialist Chambers was formed, the five-year mandate of this court expires next year.

Below we publish the press release of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers in its entirety:

“On 24 April 2020, the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office (SPO) filed a ten-count Indictment with the Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC) for the Court’s consideration, charging Hashim THACI, Kadri VESELI, and others with a range of crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, enforced disappearance of persons, persecution, and torture. The Indictment alleges that Hashim THACI, Kadri VESELI, and the 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 Indictment is only an accusation. 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. A KSC Pre-Trial Judge is currently reviewing the Indictment to decide on whether to confirm the charges.

The Specialist Prosecutor has deemed it necessary to issue this public notice of charges because of repeated efforts by Hashim THACI and Kadri VESELI to obstruct and undermine the work of the KSC. Mr THACI and Mr VESELI 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, Mr THACI and Mr VESELI have put their personal interests ahead of the victims of their crimes, the rule of law, and all people of Kosovo.”

Read more:

Judah: Thaci’s legs have been cut off, Vucic has no equal with whom to talk

Ahmetaj on Thaci and Veseli’s indictments: I don’t expect resignations or protests

Vukcevic on Thaci and Veseli’s indictment: I believed this would happen

Thaci cancels his trip to Washington

Gashi: The indictments filed against Thaci and Veseli cause irreparable damage to Grenell’s process

„An earthquake that will cause a tsunami in Kosovo and bring the talks in Washington to a close“

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