Mass grave containing up to 17 bodies from Kosovo War found in Serbia

Human remains believed to be the bodies of more than a dozen ethnic Albanians killed during the Kosovo War have been found in Serbia.

More than two decades after the conflict in Kosovo ended in 1999, the search for the victims remains a major obstacle to the improvement of relations between the two Balkan nations.

The investigators used satellite imagery to find the mass grave in a remote open-cast mine at Kizevak in Serbia’s south, which was confirmed by a Serbian official on Friday.

The findings suggested that there could be up to 17 bodies, Veljko Odalovic, the head of Serbia’s Commission for Missing Persons, told reporters.

Forensics expert Suzana Matejic said further investigation would be hampered in the short term by fast-approaching winter and coronavirus restrictions.

Hundreds still missing from conflict

Serbian authorities are working to investigate the remains before winter sets in.(Reuters: Fedja Grulovic)

More than 13,000 people are believed to have died during the war in Kosovo, Serbia’s former southern province.

The fighting ended in 1999 following NATO air strikes against the now-defunct Yugoslavia.

Most of the victims were ethnic Albanians and hundreds are still missing.

Ibrahim Makolli, Kosovo’s representative for the missing persons, said it should be a priority to find those responsible for the deaths, adding: “They should receive the punishment they deserve.”

The investigation that led to the discovery was an effort by Serbia, Kosovo, the International Committee of the Red Cross and EULEX, the EU’s justice and police mission in Kosovo.

The largest mass grave from the war found so far, containing the bodies of more than 800 Kosovo Albanians, was found in 2001 in a police compound near Belgrade.

Kosovo declared independence in 2008, but Belgrade refuses to recognise it.

Serbia has applied to be a member of the European Union and Kosovo also wants to be part of the EU, but the two must normalise ties before either can join.


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Kosovo leader Thaci in Hague detention over war crimes charges

He and two other suspects were flown to the Dutch city on Thursday, the international court said.

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Kosovo President Resigns to Fight War Crimes Case in the Netherlands

The president of Kosovo, a guerrilla leader during Kosovo’s fight for independence against Serbia, resigned on Thursday to face charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity at a special international court in the Netherlands.

President Hashim Thaci, 52, said at a news conference in Pristina, Kosovo’s capital, that he was stepping down to protect the office of the presidency.

“From today, it is a new chapter for Kosovo,” said Vigan Qorrolli, a law professor at the University of Pristina in Kosovo’s capital. “Many see the president’s resignation as an opportunity for “new stability here to bring prosperity,” he added.

Mr. Thaci, the former commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army, was indicted in June by the special court in The Hague on 10 counts of war crimes. Prosecutors accused him and other former independence fighters of being “criminally responsible for nearly 100 murders.”

He has previously denied the allegations and said earlier this year that he would resign as president if the charges were confirmed. At his news conference on Thursday, he said that this had now happened. His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment and there was no immediate word on exactly when he would travel to The Hague.

The court in The Hague had no immediate comment on Mr. Thaci but said it would provide more information later on Thursday.

The prosecutor’s office for the court in The Hague said on Wednesday it had arrested Jakup Krasniqi, a former interim president of Kosovo, after a judge had confirmed war crimes charges against him as well. He was arrested in Kosovo with the help of European Union authorities.

Other fighters-turned-lawmakers also said that they would travel to The Hague on Thursday to face charges that had just been confirmed, including Kadri Veseli, the leader of the Democratic Party of Kosovo; and Rexhep Selimi, an opposition lawmaker.

The indictment gave hope to “thousands of victims of the Kosovo war who have waited for more than two decades to find out the truth about the horrific crimes committed against them and their loved ones,” said Jelena Sesar, Amnesty International’s Balkans researcher, in a statement. She added that it showed “senior officials are not above the law.”

Mr. Thaci has been Kosovo’s president since 2016, a largely ceremonial role, though he has also served as prime minister. He is a mainstay of Kosovo’s politics whose supporters have heralded him as a war hero, while his critics have accused his government of corruption and of rigging the judiciary.

The accusations levied against Mr. Thaci, Mr. Veseli and others in June include murder, enforced disappearance of people, persecution and torture, including of political opponents. But the charges needed to be reviewed by a judge and confirmed, which was the latest development.

More than 13,000 people died in the Kosovo war, mostly Kosovar Albanians killed by Serbian forces. But they also include some 2,000 Serbs, Roma and Kosovar Albanians killed in NATO bombing or by fighters like the Kosovo Liberation Army, according to figures from the Humanitarian Law Center.

The charges against the president were brought after Kosovo’s Parliament set up the special court in the Netherlands in 2015 to determine whether guerrilla fighters had committed war crimes.

Prosecutors said that the charges were made public because of “repeated efforts” by Mr. Thaci and Mr. Veseli to obstruct the court, and that the two had carried out a secret campaign to “obstruct the work of the court in an attempt to ensure that they do not face justice.”

Though Kosovo won its sovereignty in 1999 and announced its independence in 2008, Serbia has refused to recognize Kosovo’s independence and negotiations for a peace deal have flailed. European and American officials have been mediating dialogues between the two sides in the hopes of improving relations and securing a settlement.

News of the indictment in June delayed a planned meeting between Mr. Thaci and President Aleksandar Vucic of Serbia at the White House, the first formal talks between the two in over a year. Kosovo’s prime minister, Avdullah Hoti, attended a summit in September instead.

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Kosovo President Thaci resigns after war crimes indictment confirmed

November 5, 2020

PRISTINA (Reuters) – Kosovo President Hashim Thaci resigned with immediate effect on Thursday after learning that the Kosovo war crimes tribunal had confirmed his indictment for war crimes.

“I resign as of today,” Thaci told a news conference in the Kosovo capital, Pristina, adding that his sources had informed him that the Kosovo Specialist Chamber in The Hague had confirmed his indictment.

(Reporting by Bardh Krasniqi; writing by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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Kosovo CPI falls for 3rd month | The Budapest Business Journal on the web

 Regional Today

 Wednesday, October 14, 2020, 16:30

Consumer prices in Kosovo decreased 0.4% year-on-year in September, following a 0.5% drop in August, figures released by the Pristina-based Kosovo Agency of Statistics (KAS) show.

It was the third consecutive month of falls in consumer prices, as cost continued to drop for; transport by 7.1% (the same as in August); furniture & household goods fell by 1% (vs -0.4%); clothing & footwear by 0.8% (vs -0.2%) and recreation & culture by 0.7% (vs -1.5%).

On the other hand, prices rose for housing & utilities by 0.1% (vs -0.4%) and increased further for food & non-alcoholic beverages by 0.9% (vs 0.8%).

On a monthly basis, consumer prices went down 0.1%, after increasing 0.1% in August.



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White House helps broker peace deal between Serbia, Kosovo

President Donald Trump participates in a signing ceremony with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, left, and Kosovar Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti, in the Oval Office of the White House, Friday, Sept. 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

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UPDATED 5:00 PM PT – Friday, September 4, 2020

The Trump administration has successfully brokered another historic peace deal. On Friday, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić and Kosovar Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti signed an agreement at the White House, which will establish their new economic relations.

President Trump also signed the document as a witness. Staff members like Robert O’Brien, Jared Kushner and former acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell stood present.

“Another day everyone thought would be impossible! Congratulations to Aleksandar Vučić of Serbia and Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti of Kosovo on committing to economic normalization. This is a major step forward to bringing prosperity and peace to the Balkans and the world. I am proud to have assisted these leaders.” – Donald Trump, 45th President of the United States

Grenell, who has served as the special envoy for Serbia and Kosovo, has said this deal will put an end to decades of fighting. He has called the conflict a nightmare.

Serbia and Kosovo have been in an ongoing conflict since the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1989. The conflict even prompted Operation Allied Forces in 1999. The U.S. and NATO launched a bombing campaign on strategic positions in Serbia to end their president’s ethnic cleansing in Kosovo.

Adviser to the President on Serbia-Kosovo Richard Grenell speaks as National security adviser Robert C. O’Brien listens during a news conference at the White House, Friday, Sept. 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

During a press briefing following the signing, Grenell discussed how President Trump has challenged the idea of using political dialogue in negotiating. He instead suggested negotiations begin with the discussion of economics.

“If we would have done the typical political thing, listened to all the really smart people at NGO’s and think tanks here in Washington, D.C., we would not have this agreement,” he added.

Kosovo, a near 96% Muslim state, also announced it will establish relations with the Jewish state of Israel. Officials are planning to begin this process by placing an embassy in Jerusalem.

Serbia, which has a majority Serbian orthodox Christian population, will also move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

This announcement came just weeks after the White House announced the normalization of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. These recent peace deals are part of the U.S. push to improve the relationships between Israel and Muslim states around the world.

MORE NEWS: O’Brien: Serbia, Kosovo Peace Deal Couldn’t Happen Without President Trump

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Kosovo President Hashim Thaci indicted for war crimes

The Business of the Special Prosecutor in the Hague claims it has submitted an indictment versus Kosovo President Hashim Thaci and “other folks” for war crimes and crimes towards humanity.

The indictment is “the consequence of a lengthy investigation and displays the SPO’s (Unique Prosecutor’s Business office) willpower that it can verify all of the rates further than a fair doubt,” the SPO claimed in a statement.

Mr Thaci and 9 other former separatist fighters ended up indicted on a assortment of crimes towards humanity and war crimes charges such as murder by a courtroom investigating crimes in opposition to ethnic Serbs for the duration of and after Kosovo’s 1998-99 independence war with Serbia.

A statement from a prosecutor of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers issued on Wednesday reported Mr Thaci and the some others suspects “are criminally liable for approximately 100 murders”, involving hundreds of recognised Kosovar Albanian, Serb and Roma victims, as effectively as political opponents.

Other prices include enforced disappearance, persecution, and torture.

Kosovo Albanians mourn in the course of the ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of 113 adult men killed in the course of the 1998-99 war in the village of Krusha e Vogel, Kosovo.


Mr Thaci commanded fighters in the Kosovo Liberation Army, or KLA, through the war.

The indicted team also includes Kadri Veseli, previous parliament speaker and chief of the opposition Democratic Social gathering of Kosovo.

The indictment issued on Wednesday was the very first by the exclusive tribunal centered in the Hague.

The courtroom has been functioning considering that 2015 and has questioned hundreds of witnesses.

Kosovo’s key minister resigned last calendar year just before he was questioned.

The indictment is getting reviewed by a pre-demo decide who will make a decision no matter whether to ensure the expenses, according to the assertion.

The prosecutor also accused Mr Thaci and Mr Veseli of repeated attempts “to impede and undermine the work” of the tribunal.

“By taking these steps, Mr Thaci and Mr Veseli have place their personalized passions ahead of the victims of their crimes, the rule of regulation and all folks of Kosovo,” it added.

The 1998-1999 war still left extra than 10,000 lifeless and 1,641 are even now unaccounted for.

It ended after a 78-day NATO bombing campaign.

Serbia doesn’t recognise Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence.

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