[ti:Kosovo President Resigns to Face War Crimes Charges]
[00:00.04]Kosovo President Hashim Thaci resigned on Thursday
[00:05.80]to face war crimes charges brought by a court
[00:10.40]in The Hague in the Netherlands.
[00:13.92]The 52-year-old leader said he had decided to step down
[00:19.20]"to protect the integrity of the presidency."
[00:24.12]The charges are for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
[00:30.80]They date back to Thaci's involvement
[00:34.36]in Kosovo's war for independence from Serbia.
[00:40.48]Thaci was a commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA),
[00:45.72]an ethnic Albanian guerrilla group
[00:49.20]that fought against Serbian security forces in the 1998-1999 war.
[00:58.68]Thaci was indicted in June, along with nine other former rebel leaders,
[01:05.52]by a special Kosovo court and prosecutor's office based in The Hague.
[01:13.28]The court was established in 2015 to investigate
[01:18.24]and try former ethnic Albanian rebel leaders for alleged war crimes.
[01:26.32]Prosecutors accuse Thaci and other suspects of being responsible
[01:32.76]for the murders of nearly 100 civilians during the war.
[01:39.28]The group is also accused of causing the "enforced disappearance
[01:44.88]of persons, persecution and torture."
[01:49.32]The charges relate to "hundreds of known victims
[01:54.52]of Kosovo Albanian, Serb, Roma, and other ethnicities
[02:01.12]and include political opponents," prosecutors said.
[02:07.40]The president's closest ally, Kadri Veseli, said Thursday
[02:13.40]an indictment against him had also been confirmed
[02:17.64]by the court and that he would go to The Hague.
[02:21.64]Thaci and Veseli both deny any involvement in war crimes.
[02:29.60]The 1998-1999 war killed more than 10,000 people,
[02:36.64]most of them ethnic Albanians.
[02:40.36]At least 1,641 people are still unaccounted for.
[02:48.68]A 78-day NATO air campaign
[02:52.12]against Serbian troops brought the war to an end.
[02:57.48]Thaci said he was proud to have belonged
[03:01.36]to the Kosovo Liberation Army during the war.
[03:06.68]He called the force "the most sublime value of the Albanian nation."
[03:14.00]He called the indictment "the smallest price we have to pay
[03:18.92]for the freedom of our people."
[03:22.72]The government said in a statement
[03:25.28]that all defendants should be considered innocent
[03:29.24]unless the court decides otherwise.
[03:33.24]"No one may judge our fight for freedom,"
[03:36.76]the government said in a statement.
[03:40.36]It added that the KLA "fought for the liberation of our country,
[03:46.52]to protect the house and not in a foreign land,
[03:50.96]and as such it has the support of the international community."
[03:57.44]Thaci held a ceremony at his office to hand over presidential duties
[04:03.52]to the head of Kosovo's parliament, Vjosa Osmani.
[04:08.60]The government said the move was in line with the country's constitution.
[04:15.28]Thaci was elected president in February 2016.
[04:20.56]Before that, he served as foreign minister,
[04:24.32]deputy prime minister and prime minister.
[04:28.92]His current term ends in April 2021, when the National Assembly
[04:35.08]was expected to elect a new president.
[04:38.64]I'm Bryan Lynn. 更多听力请访问51VOA.COM