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Kosovo veterans puzzled by court war crime file delivery

PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Kosovo war veterans said Thursday that war crime files inexplicably sent to their office have been returned to a special international court in The Hague, Netherlands, probing alleged crimes during and after the Balkan nation’s 1998-1999 war.

Hysni Gucati, a spokesman for the association of former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) fighters said an unidentified man delivered the files to their office in Kosovo's capital, Pristina, this week. He said it was the second such incident in two months.

“(Prosecutors) have not told us how these materials were taken out of their office,” Gucati told journalists. The association’s lawyer Tome Gashi said the files were original documents of the Special Court. They include names of witnesses.

The court is mandated to look into allegations that KLA members committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. Christopher Bennett, spokesman of the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers, the court, said he had “no comment” on the files issue.

Prosecutors have charged Kosovo President Hashim Thaci and former parliamentary speaker Kadri Veseli, among others, with crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, enforced disappearances, persecution and torture. Both men have denied committing any crimes.

A pretrial judge hasn’t made a decision on whether to proceed with Thaci’s case. The 1998-1999 war of the ethnic Albanian KLA members fighting for Kosovo's independence from Serbia killed more than 10,000 people — most of them ethnic Albanians. More than 1,600 remain unaccounted for. It ended after a 78-day NATO air campaign against Serbian troops.

Kosovo, which is dominated by ethnic Albanians, declared independence from Serbia in 2008, a move that Serbia doesn’t recognize. ——- Semini reported from Tirana, Albania.

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