news 01 Feb 18

Kosovo President: Special War Court Can’t Be Stopped

President Hashim Thaci said that the law that enables the new Hague-based Kosovo Specialist Chambers to operate was unjust but cannot be revoked, despite attempts by MPs from the ruling coalition.

Die Morina, Taulant Osmani
Hashim Thaci speaking to journalists on Thursday. Photo: BIRN.

Hashim Thaci said on Thursday that an initiative by MPs to revoke the law on the new Specialist Chambers, set up in The Hague to prosecute former Kosovo Liberation Army fighters for wartime and post-war crimes, will not succeed.

“The Special Court cannot be revoked and will not be revoked. This is the stance of the state and not an opinion,” Thaci said.

Forty-three Kosovo MPs have backed the initiative to revoke the law that established the court, which is part of the Kosovo justice system but staffed by internationals and based in The Hague.

Thaci said that he has always been against the new court.

“The establishment of this court is a historic injustice; no other place went through this,” Thaci said.

He said it was imposed on Kosovo – a reference to strong pressure from the US and the EU.

But he argued that if Kosovo had not accepted the establishment of the Specialist Chambers in their current form, as part of the Kosovo justice system, another version of the court would have been imposed by the UN Security Council.

This would have been worse for Kosovo as permanent UN Security Council member Russia is an ally of Serbia and rejects Pristina’s declaration of independence, he claimed.

“We had two opportunities - for this court to be established by Security Council with Russia and China, or to be established by us with our legal framework,” Thaci said.

On January 8, the speaker of parliament and ruling party leader Kadri Veseli also said MPs’ attempts to stop it would not succeed.

“Kosovo deserved this to happen least in the world, but it will happen even though there are hundreds of arguments that speak against it! It is an injustice that is being done in the name of justice!” Veseli wrote in an article published by Gazeta Express.

A group of MPs initially sent the initiative to revoke the law on the court to the presidency of the Kosovo Assembly on December 22, but it stalled because no quorum was reached.

On January 17, another push to revoke the law failed when an Assembly presidency meeting again failed to reach a quorum amid international pressure.

However, on January 22 the initiative was sent to the government, which then had 30 days to respond to the Assembly presidency.

The initiative to revoke the law was supported by the country’s ruling coalition parties - the PDK, the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, AAK and the Initiative for Kosovo, NISMA.

The US and EU strongly condemned the attempt and warned that Kosovo could end up even more isolated if it succeeded.

The initiative came after KLA veterans launched a petition calling for the law to be changed because it was “discriminatory”, as the court will try former Kosovo Albanian guerrillas and not members of Serbian forces.

The new Hague-based institution is expected to issue its first indictments this year.

Speculation has suggested that high-ranking Kosovo politicians who were top Kosovo Liberation Army officials during the war could face charges.

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