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'I believe in justice' says Kosovo's Thaci as he arrives at The Hague on war crime charges

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Kosovo president Hashim Thaci speaks during a televised address to the nation, in Pristina, Kosovo, Monday, June 29, 2020
Kosovo president Hashim Thaci speaks during a televised address to the nation, in Pristina, Kosovo, Monday, June 29, 2020   -   Copyright  Astrit Ibrahimi/AP
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Kosovo President Hasim Thaci on Monday appeared at The Hague to be interviewed by a special international prosecutor after his recent indictment on war crimes charges.

"Nobody can rewrite history," he said in his prepared statement to the press as he stood outside the entrance to the court, chants ringing out behind him, almost obscuring his words at times.

"I believe in peace, truth, reconsideration and justice. I believe in dialogue and good relations with all neighbours," the statement went on.

He added that he was "ready to face the new challenge and win for my son, my family, my people and my country."

Supporters stood behind a barrier draped with the flags of the Kosovo Liberation Army, Albania and Kosovo, waiting for Thaci to arrive and held signs that read: "This is racism" and "we have no heroes to sacrifice".

The leader has denied any wrongdoing, but last Wednesday said that he would go to the special chamber to be questioned by prosecutors.

The accusations relate to Kosovo's independence war against Serbia and are being assessed by a judge at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC) who will then decide if the case will go to trial.

The KSC, a court based in The Hague with international staff working under Kosovo’s law, is mandated to look into allegations that members of the Kosovo Liberation Army, which was fighting for independence, committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The indictment came as EU-sponsored talks between Kosovo and Serbia restarted in Brussels at the weekend.

Thaci's indictment could prove to be Kosovo's main stumbling block in talks as it has left the country politically unprepared for dialogue, Naim Rashiti, Founder & Executive Director of the Balkans Policy Research Group, told Euronews,

The announcement of charges against Thaci came as he was on his way to Washington for talks with Serbian leaders, hosted by US President Donald Trump's special envoy, on a new era of cooperation between the Balkan countries.

A press release published on the KSC and Specialist Prosecutor's Office's (SPO) website said a prosecutor had filed a 10-count indictment against Thaci among others, including former speaker and Leader of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) Kadri Veseli who also denied responsibility for war crimes.

It accused them of crimes against humanity and war crimes, "including murder, enforced disappearance of persons, persecution, and torture."

Visar Kryeziu/APLeader of the (PDK) Democratic Party of Kosovo Kadri Veseli, walks out of his party headquarters to meet with Albania Prime Minister Edi Rama during his official visit to Kosovo in Pristina, Monday, June 29, 2020.