The Hague court questions Kosovo’s outgoing speaker

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PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Kosovo’s outgoing parliament speaker says he was questioned at a Netherlands-based court investigating crimes against ethnic Serbs during and after the country’s 1998-99 war.

Speaker Kadri Veseli said late Tuesday he was questioned for three hours at The Hague court without giving details, but only adding that “the Kosovo people’s war was for justice, freedom and independence.”

Veseli has been one of the senior commanders of the Kosovo Liberation Army fighting for independence in 1998-1999, when it was a Serbian province, against the then-Serb regime of the autocratic leader Slobodan Milosevic.

“We opposed Serbia’s ethnic cleansing, the genocide,” he told journalists. “The KLA fight has been a confrontation with the ethnic cleansing.”

It wasn’t clear whether Veseli was questioned as a witness or as a suspect.

Scores of other former KLA fighters, now senior officials, have been questioned this year.

In July, outgoing Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj resigned when he was summoned for questioning by the court and an early election was held in October.

The Kosovo Specialist Chambers and a separate Specialist Prosecutor’s Office were established in 2015 to examine war crimes allegations against the separatist KLA in fighting against the bloody Serb crackdown that ended after NATO intervention in 1999.

The court, which is part of the Kosovo judicial system despite being based in the Netherlands, has raised no charges so far.

Many in Kosovo consider the court as unfair while Serbia committed hundreds of massacres during the 1998-99 war which ended with a 78-day NATO air campaign.

Kosovo’s 2008 independence has not been recognized by Serbia.

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