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 said at a news conference in Pristina, Kosovo’s capital, that he was stepping down to protect the office of the presidency.
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 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.
The court in The Hague had no immediate comment but said it would provide more information later on Thursday.
More than 13,000 people died in the Kosovo War, among them more than 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.
Though Kosovo won its sovereignty in 1999, Serbia has refused to recognize Kosovo’s independence and negotiations for a peace deal have flailed.