Kosovo's president Hashim Thaci 'indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity'
Kosovo's President Hashim Thaci and nine other former separatists have been indicted on war crimes charges.
Thaci was a former commander with the Kosovo Liberation Army during the war for independence from Serbia between 1998 and 1999, which left more than 10,000 dead and 1,641 unaccounted for.
He has been charged alongside Kadri Veseli, leader of the opposition Democratic Party of Kosovo and former parliament speaker, by a court set up to investigate crimes committed against ethnic Serbs during and after the conflict.
A statement from a prosecutor of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers issued Wednesday said President Hashim Thaci and the others suspects “are criminally responsible for nearly 100 murders” of political opponents and Kosovar Albanian, Serb and Roma victims, AP reported Wednesday.
Other charges include enforced disappearance, persecution, and torture. Thaci commanded fighters in the Kosovo Liberation Army, or KLA, during the war.
Thaci's office said later on Wednesday he would return home after the charges "interrupted" his planned trip to Washington to discuss tensions with Serbia. His office did not specify his whereabouts.
Tensions between the sides center on Serbia's rejection of Kosovo's independence, declared in 2008 by the province's ethnic Albanian majority after breaking away in a bloody war.
The EU's 'moment'
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic is still expected to join this weekend's talks, which are set to take place at the White House.
"I think this process was a legal one, which however, has a very important political effect," Vessela Tcherneva, deputy director of the European Council on Foreign Relations think tank told Dailyrater,
"Thaci was betting on the US to get out of this legal process... he was saying Washington is a source of political legitimacy... and this decision of the court basically undermines his ambition."
Kosovo is one of six Western Balkan nations that is seeking to join the European Union, subject to meeting the bloc's conditions for human rights and legal requirements.
"This is a very important moment for the EU to prove that it can fulfil the UN Security Council Resolution, which has given the EU the leading role in settling the dispute between Serbia and Kosovo," Tcherneva said.