Kosovo's ex-president Thaci pleads not guilty at war crimes trial

Hashiм Thaci, who resigned as president of Kosovo last week, on Monday declared that he was not guilty during his first hearing in a war crimes trial at a special court in The Hague, news wires reported.

"I plead not guilty on all counts," said Thaci, head of the political wing of the ethnic Albanian guerrilla Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) which fought Belgrade's forces for independence in 1998-99. He and several others are accused of a range of crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, enforced disappearance of persons, persecution, and torture.

Thaci and his closest ally and head of his Democratic Party, Kadri Veseli, as well as Kosovo politicians Rexhep Selimi and Jakup Krasniqi, are allegedly responsible for nearly 100 murders.

Thaci stepped down as president on Thursday, a day after the court confirmed the indictment.

The Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC) was established in 2015 under Kosovan laws but was set up in The Hague with international staff to minimize the intimidation of witnesses by influential defendants.

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