Kosovo President Hashim Thaci says he will resign to face war crimes trial

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Nov. 5 (UPI) — Kosovo President Hashim Thaci said Thursday he will step down from the post to face charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity at a special international court at The Hague.

Thaci is the former commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army during its fight for independence against Serbia in the 1990s. The Netherlands special court was created to try wartime and postwar crimes during that fight from 1998 to 2000.

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Thaci faces 10 war crime counts, accusing him and other liberation army fighters of being “criminally responsible for nearly 100 murders.”

The president said he resigned to protect the presidency while disputing the charges, which were confirmed Thursday.

“I will not appear before the court as president. Today I resign from the position of president of the Republic of Kosovo,” he said.

Former Kosovo foreign minister Petrit Selimi tweeted support for Thaci.

“Hashim Thaçi founded the most successful guerrilla in modern history of Europe,” he wrote. “He declared independence of the nation. If a trial is a price he has to pay, it’s a price I know he’s happy to pay. We are free after all.”

Thaci and many Kosovo Albanians have said the army fought a “just war” for liberation against Serbian rule.

The special court at The Hague has support from the United States and European Union.