Kosovo’s Thaci Was a Freedom Fighter, Not a War Criminal: Defence Lawyer

"President Thaci and these gentlemen were freedom fighters trying to liberate Kosovo from a terrible situation that they were suffering for decades from the Serb regime and during the course of this trial we are going to demonstrate that," Kehoe said.

"We have to understand the KLA for what it was," he added. He explained that it was "a group of farmers, teachers, students, store owners that made up this army. Untrained for the most part, they were fighting against Serb oppression."

This is one of the most important court cases arising from the 1990s Yugoslav wars, where leaders of Kosovo Liberation Army, praised back home as heroes and liberators are facing grave charges.

Thaci is being tried with his former comrades-in-arms Kadri Veseli, Jakup Krasniqi, and Rexhep Selimi, for war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed between at least March 1998 and September 1999 in Kosovo and neighbouring Albania during the war with Serbian forces.

Their alleged crimes include the crimes against humanity of persecution, imprisonment, torture, murder and enforced disappearances, and the war crimes of unlawful or arbitrary arrest and detention, cruel treatment, torture and murder.

The indictment alleges that the four men are responsible for abusing victims they saw as opponents at KLA detention sites throughout Kosovo and northern Albania, where nearly 100 murders were allegedly committed. 

'The KLA was a grassroots army' 

Gregory Kehoe in court at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers in February. Photo: Kosovo Specialist Chambers/Screenshot.

According to Kehoe, the Kosovo Liberation Army's fighters did not follow direct orders from headquarters because there was not a properly structured chain of command...

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