Kosovo votes in favour war crimes court

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Kosovo votes in favour war crimes court

Parliament in Kosovo has approved a constitutional amendment that will allow a special court to be set up to prosecute former leaders over alleged war crimes including the killing of Serb civilians.

The 120 member chamber voted by 82 to 5 in favour of the change.

In June parliament failed to pass the legislation due to objections from former rebels who had since become politicians.

“This process will move us forward together”, said Kosovan Foreign Minister Hashim Thaci. “Without political differences and at the same time with very close cooperation with the United States, the European Union and NATO. Therefore esteemed lawmakers I call upon all of you to vote in favour of creating the special court.”

Kosovo Albanians fought a short but fierce guerrilla war against Serbian rule in 1998-1999 before eventually declaring independence from Serbia in 2008.

It has since be recognised by over 100 countries but not by Russia or Serbia.

The disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army has faced repeated accusations that it removed organs from ethnic Serb captives.

The European Union and the United States have pressed Kosovo to address the issue.

The new court will be based in the Netherlands because of concerns over witness intimidations and judicial corruption in Kosovo.

Former prime minister and wartime KLA commander Ramush Haradinaj was one of those in parliament who opposed the court.