Kosovar activists disrupt war crimes court officials’ talks

International

PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Kosovar activists on Tuesday tried to disrupt a meeting of war crimes court officials with civil society members, accusing the court adjudicating cases from Kosovo’s war of independence of equating the victim with the aggressor.

The incident happened as Kosovo Special Chamber court President Ekaterina Trendafilova and her team were holding an outreach meeting in the capital, Pristina with civil society officials and the journalists.

Two activists who claimed membership to left-wing Social Democratic Party spoke out against the court, accusing it of trying to “change Kosovo’s history” by portraying the war as a conflict “between two aggressors” and not a war of liberation and independence.

Trendafilova said the court and prosecutors investigate and indict individuals, not organizations or groups.

The court and a prosecutor’s office were established following a 2011 report by the Council of Europe, a human rights body, that included allegations that Kosovo Liberation Army fighters trafficked human organs taken from prisoners and killed Serbs and fellow ethnic Albanians.

It has indicted eight suspects, including former Kosovo president Hashim Thaci, a guerrilla leader during Kosovo’s war for independence from Serbia in the late 1990s, in four cases on charges of murder, torture and persecution linked to the conflict. Thaci and the others have denied the charges.

The first trial is expected to start next week.

Police arrested the two activists after meeting, according to eyewitnesses. Other activists outside of the meeting room were also arrested for placing flyers on the court officials’ cars which called them “non grata,” or “unwelcome.”

The Social Democratic Party called for the release of all eight of its members who were arrested.

Kosovo was part of Serbia until an armed uprising in 1998-1999 by the ethnic Albanian majority population triggered a bloody Serb crackdown. A 1999 NATO bombing campaign to force Serbia’s troops out of Kosovo ended the war. Kosovo declared independence in 2008 which Serbia refuses to recognize.

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Llazar Semini reported from Tirana, Albania.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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