by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – The war crimes trial of former Kosovo president Hashim Thaçi and three former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) began Monday at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, Human Rights Watch reports.
The four Kosovar Albanian defendants have been charged with committing “terrible” crimes during the Kosovo conflict of 1998–99, when ethnic Albanians fought ethnic Serbs and the government of Yugoslavia in Kosovo. Thaçi was the first prime minister of Kosovo and became the nation’s president from 2016 until 2020 when he resigned upon being charged with committing war crimes.
The case is being heard in the ICJ’s Kosovo Specialist Chambers, with Thaçi and his co-defendants have pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, torture, and persecution.
“This trial is of four people accused of committing terrible crimes during and after the war, when the fighting had stopped, including against people from various ethnic groups,” Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.
“It offers a chance after so many years for the victims to learn what happened and highlights the pervasive impunity that still hangs over the Kosovo conflict, and more broadly over the wars in the former Yugoslavia.”
The Kosovo conflict gained international notoriety for its brutality. “[The conflict] was marked by a litany of war crimes, the overwhelming majority by Serbian and Yugoslav forces, including murders, rapes, torture, forced displacement, and the organized transfer of more than 1,000 bodies to Serbia, where they were dumped in mass graves,” Human Rights Watch noted in its report. The war was brought to an end by the intervention of NATO.
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