Kosovo President resigns to face war crimes court in The Hague

Thaci was in detention in The Hague, just hours after he resigned to face an indictment at a war crimes court

Kosovo president and former guerilla leader Hashim Thaci was in detention in The Hague on Thursday, just hours after he resigned to face an indictment at a war crimes court.

The 52-year-old announced he was stepping down to “protect the integrity” of the presidency after a judge confirmed an indictment against him linked to the 1990s conflict with Serbia, when Thaci was political chief of the rebel Kosovo Liberation Army.

“I will cooperate closely with justice. I believe in truth, reconciliation and the future of our country and society,” he told a press conference in Pristina, before leaving on a military aircraft for the Netherlands.

The indictment charges Thaci and three other suspects who are also in detention with war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, torture, illegal detention, enforced disappearances and persecution, the court said.

They were “transferred to the detention facilities of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers” in the Dutch city and will make their first appearances before the tribunal at a later date, it said.

A former premier who became president in 2016, Thaci has long stressed his innocence in a war that most Kosovars consider a just liberation struggle against Serbian oppression.

Kosovo’s majority ethnic Albanian population suffered heavily during the 1998-99 separatist conflict, which claimed 13,000 lives and ended only after a NATO bombing campaign forced Serb troops to withdraw from the province.

Read more: AFP