Albanian PM meets Kosovo ex-leader held on war crime charges
TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Albania’s prime minister on Tuesday visited Kosovo’s ex-president Hashim Thaci in a prison in The Netherlands, where he is being held pending trial for alleged war crimes.
Edi Rama told journalists after the meeting that Thaci believed his trial would provide a way of demonstrating “in front of justice the purity of the liberating war” that Albanian separatists fought in 1998-1999 against Serbian forces.
In 2020 Thaci resigned as Kosovo’s president and was flown to The Hague to face charges including war crimes, murder, torture and persecution — all which he has denied.
The special court in the Netherlands and a linked prosecutor’s office was established following a 2011 report by the Council of Europe, a human rights body, that included allegations that Kosovo Liberation Army fighters trafficked human organs taken from prisoners and killed Serbs and fellow ethnic Albanians. The organ harvesting allegations weren’t included in the indictment against Thaci.
Thaci, 54, was a guerrilla leader in Kosovo’s war for independence from Serbia, before rising to political prominence following the conflict that killed more than 13,000 people.
Most of the dead were ethnic Albanians, and 1,617 people are still unaccounted for. A 78-day NATO air campaign against Serbian troops ended the fighting.
In 2008, Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia, a move that Belgrade refuses to recognize.