Former Kosovo prime minister summoned as war crimes suspect

PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — A former prime minister of Kosovo has become the latest politician in the Balkan nation to be summoned by prosecutors from an international court investigating whether ethnic Albanian rebels committed war crimes during and after Kosovo's 1998-1999 war with Serbia.

Former Prime Minister Agim Ceku, 59, who served as a commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army during the war, said Thursday that he was summoned “as a suspect” by prosecutors based in The Hague. Ceku said he would appear at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office on Sept. 28.

The court, which has international staff working under Kosovo’s law, is mandated to look into allegations that Kosovo Liberation Army members committed war crimes and crimes against humanity while seeking independence from Serbia.

Following a military career in Croatia, including fighting in the early 1990s when it separated from Yugoslavia into an independent state, Ceku became KLA chief-of-staff during the war in Kosovo. He also led the postwar transformation of the KLA troops into regular army forces, and was Kosovo's prime minister in 2006-2008.

Ceku is the latest in a series of top Kosovar politicians and former independence fighters summoned by the court, which has interviewed hundreds of people.

Prosecutors this week questioned as a witness the leader of an ethnic Albanian party in North Macedonia who helped found the KLA. Albanian Democratic Union for Integration leader Ali Ahmeti, 61, for two days at the offices of the European Union’s rule of law mission in Kosovo’s capital.

After leaving the building on Thursday Ahmeti said he could not speak about the process until it is completed, but added that he hoped “no more interviewing is held for anybody.”

Kosovar President Hashim Thaci, former parliamentary speaker Kadri Veseli and some others have been charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, enforced disappearances, persecution and torture. A pretrial judge hasn’t yet made a decision on whether to proceed with the case.

The war ended after NATO conducted a 78-day airstrike campaign against Serbia, and Kosovo was run by the United Nations for nine years before it declared independence from Serbia in 2008. That independence is recognized by most western states, but not Serbia. Relations between the two countries remain tense.