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Kosovo ex-president Thaci denies war crimes

First time at a special international court in The Hague

09 November, 17:35
(ANSA-AFP) - THE HAGUE, 09 NOV - Kosovo's former president Hashim Thaci pleaded not guilty to war crimes charges in the 1990s war against Serbia as he appeared for the first time at a special international court in The Hague on Monday. The one-time guerilla liberation hero resigned as president on Thursday and flew to the Netherlands where he was placed in the detention centre of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers tribunal. Thaci, 52, is charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity including murder and torture during an alleged campaign by the ethnic Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) against civilians it deemed to be its enemies. "The indictment is completely without basis, and I plead not guilty to all the charges in the indictment," Thaci told the court, rising to his feet after the judge asked him if he wished to plead guilty or not guilty. "I understood them, I heard them today, I read them, and I do not agree with any of them." His lawyer David Hooper complained about Thaci's treatment, saying it was "disgraceful" that he was held in handcuffs outside the court, and saying he intended to seek his conditional release. Going by the nom de guerre "Snake", Thaci was the political chief of the rebel KLA, which battled Serb forces for the independence of the southern province in a bitter conflict that claimed more than 13,000 lives. After downing his guns following the war Thaci joined politics, leading then US vice president Joe Biden to once hail him as the "George Washington of Kosovo. (ANSA-AFP).

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