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.”
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.
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.
“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.
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.
CNN’s Niamh Kennedy contributed to this report.
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