North Macedonia: top Albanian summoned on Kosovo war crimes

SKOPJE, North Macedonia (AP) — The leader of the main ethnic Albanian party in North Macedonia said he has been invited to appear as a witness at the special international court on alleged crimes during and after the Kosovo’s 1998-1999 war, in which he fought.

Ali Ahmeti, leader of the Democratic Union for Integration party in North Macedonia where ethnic Albanians make up at least one-fourth of its 2 million population, posted on Facebook late on Wednesday that The Hague, Netherlands-based Special Prosecutor’s office “invited me to testify as one of the founders of the KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army) and a member of the General Staff.”

Ahmeti, a former KLA founder and member, said he had accepted the invitation “and made constructive contact and cooperation with officials in The Hague.”

The Kosovo Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office, which has international staff working under Kosovo law, is mandated to look into allegations that KLA members committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. It has interviewed hundreds of KLA former fighters since early 2019.

Last week, Kosovo President Hashim Thaci was questioned for four days in The Hague.

Thaci, former parliamentary speaker Kadri Veseli and still unidentified others have been charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, enforced disappearances, persecution and torture during and after the 1998-1999 Kosovo war. Both men have denied committing any crimes.

A pretrial judge hasn’t made a decision on whether to proceed with Thaci’s case.

It is still not clear when Ahmeti will testify in The Hague.

“I am at the disposal of the justice institutions to testify to the legitimacy of the liberation war of the Albanian people before the genocide of (Slobodan) Milosevic’s Serb regime,” Ahmeti wrote.

The fighting killed more than 10,000 people — most of them ethnic Albanian civilians — and 1,641 are still unaccounted for. It ended after a 78-day NATO air campaign against Serbian troops.

Kosovo, which is dominated by ethnic Albanians, declared independence from Serbia in 2008, which Belgrade doesn’t recognize.

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