THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Former Kosovo president Hasim Thaci addressed an international jury to hear his trial on 10 war crimes and crimes against humanity on Tuesday, arguing he was innocent. bottom.
At the end of his lawyer’s opening statement to the Kosovo Chamber of Experts, Sachi stood up, buttoned his gray pinstriped suit jacket, and told the black-robed judge that the evidence would lead to his acquittal. He said he expects Innocent people will be chased. ”
Thaci was a student who emerged from what he described as political exile in Switzerland to participate in Kosovo’s struggle for independence from Serbia. As head of the Kosovo Liberation Army’s Political Department, he was accepted by Western leaders who invited him to peace talks held in France in 1999 and was seen as a leader who could lead the country to independence.
Thaci said he regretted that the late Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and other international diplomats who died nearly a quarter century after the war could not speak on his behalf.
“They would have testified to me what I said and what I did at a very important time in Kosovo’s history,” he said. “I’m glad so many people like them have come forward to testify to my innocence.”
However, prosecutors have painted a different picture, in which Thaci and three other former senior KLA leaders on trial with him are accused of murdering people perceived as traitors or collaborators of the Serbian military. and accused of illegal detention and abuse.
“I am innocent of all these allegations,” Sachi said. “But I am ready to face this new challenge and succeed for my family, my people and my country.”
Defense attorney Gregory Kehoe told the judge that international prosecutors had held Thaci accountable for war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed by members of the guerrilla army during Kosovo’s war for independence in 1998-1999. Thaci said he did not have “effective command and control” over the KLA at the time of the infliction. Originally from Serbia.
Key to the trial, which began Monday and is expected to last for months, is the question of how much control Thachi and the three other former KLA leaders put on trial with him had over the KLA fighters. Become.
Thaci and his associates Kadri Veseri, Rekhep Selimi, and Jakup Krasniki, respectively, committed murder, torture, and persecution allegedly committed in Kosovo and northern Albania during and after the war from 1998 to September 1999, respectively. He has been indicted on charges including
Kehoe’s opening statement stated that on the first day of trial, the prosecution said that Thaci and all three co-defendants were members of the KLA’s general staff and had pursued a policy of targeting civilians perceived as collaborators and traitors. It was intended to refute the official’s claims.
Prosecution attorney Matt Harring told judges on Monday:
The trial is being held at the Kosovo Chamber of Experts, a branch of the Kosovo legal system established in The Hague, due to concerns about the safety and security of witnesses.
Most of the 13,000 people who died in the war in Kosovo in 1998-1999 were Albanians. A 78-day campaign of NATO airstrikes against Serbian forces ended the fighting.
The trial sparked massive demonstrations in support of the four defendants in Kosovo on Sunday, with hundreds of Kosovars in The Hague on Monday declaring that “the KLA fought for freedom.” protested by waving flags and banners including
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