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article imageTwo Kosovo ex-commanders summoned to Hague in war crimes probe

By AFP     Dec 12, 2018 in World

Two top Kosovo independence fighters are among the first to be summoned for interviews by special war crimes prosecutors in The Hague, their lawyers said Wednesday.

The EU-funded tribunal was established in 2015 to prosecute crimes allegedly committed by top members of the ethnic-Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) during and after their battles with Serb forces in the 1998-99 war.

The conflict left 13,000 dead, most of them ethnic Albanians.

The chamber has yet to issue indictments, but speculation has raged over who will be targeted, including whether Kosovo's current president Hashim Thaci, the former political leader of KLA, will be on the list.

In some of the first summonses, two war-time commanders -- Rrustem Mustafa-Remi in the north and Sami Lushtaku in the west -- were called to The Hague in mid-January, their lawyer Arianit Koci said in written statements on Wednesday.

Koci said his clients, aged 47 and 57 respectively, received summons "for an interview" and are "ready to clarify any circumstance which the Specialist Prosecution is investigating".

Several other former lower-level KLA members have recently received summons for interviews in The Hague, local media reported.

Commenting on Tuesday, Kosovo's Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj said "there is no reason for freedom fighters to be concerned".

A former KLA commander himself, Haradinaj was acquitted of war crime charges by a separate Hague court covering the 1990s wars that unravelled former Yugoslavia.

"Those who are invited will go there, fulfil their duties, and return. So, I do not consider it any big disaster," he told local media.

The Kosovo Specialist Chambers was formed after a 2011 Council of Europe report alleged the KLA carried out kidnapping, assassinations, unlawful detentions and other crimes against Serbs, Romas and political opponents during and after the war.

The court was established under Kosovo law, but has international judges and is located in The Hague to protect witnesses in what are highly sensitive cases.

President Thaci was directly named in the 2011 report as a key player in alleged crimes, along with several others of his inner circle.

He denies the allegations.

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