PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) – The Prime Minister of Albania on Monday called the charges against the President of Kosovo and other former rebel fighters a “disgraceful blot” on world justice.
The President of Kosovo, Hasim Thaci and the others, were charged by a Hague-based court for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity during and after an armed conflict of 1998-1999 between ethnic Albanian separatists and Serbia.
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama unexpectedly visited neighboring Kosovo to meet top leaders, including Thaci and former parliamentary speaker Kadri Veseli, both part of a group of former independence fighters accused of war crimes.
The charges were made public last week, but a judge in Kosovo Specialist Chambers, based in The Hague, has yet to decide whether to prosecute the case.
Rama’s unannounced visit to Kosovo, which also has a predominantly ethnic Albanian population, was a signal of support from neighboring Albania. He tweeted that the indictment is a “shameful 21st century blemish”, world justice. Thaci plans to address the country in the evening.
Thaci was a commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army, or KLA, who fought for independence from Serbia. The fighting has killed more than 10,000 – most of them ethnic Albanians – and 1,641 are still unknown. It ended after a 78-day NATO air campaign that forced Serb forces to end their brutal crackdown on ethnic Albanians and leave Kosovo.
Thaci’s indictment also disrupted a White House meeting between leaders of Kosovo and Serbia, initiated by U.S. Presidential envoy Richard Grenell, which would be the first official talks between Serbia and Kosovo in 19 months.
Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008, an action that Serbia refuses to recognize.
The United States and the European Union have been working to normalize ties between the two countries that are still strained.
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