Kosovo Ambassador to North Macedonia Questioned by Specialist Prosecutor

Supporters of Kosovo President Hashim Thaci shout slogans, hold flags and wear protective masks with Kosovo Liberation Army emblems, on his arrival back home from the Hague on July 17, 2020. Photo: EPA-EFE/ Valdrin Xhemaj

Kosovo’s Ambassador to North Macedonia, Gjergj Dedaj, on Wednesday said the Hague-based Kosovo Specialist Prosecutor’s Office, SPO, had contacted him – also confirming that he had already testified to the office about a former disagreement he had had with the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA.

“I have been questioned as a witness [already],” Dedaj told Kosovo’s public broadcaster, RTK, on Wednesday.

On July 23, Ali Ahmeti, leader of the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI, the junior party in North Macedonia’s ruling coalition, who was also a fighter in the 1998-99 Kosovo war, said he had accepted a SPO request to interview him.

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci –  the KLA’s political leader during the 1998-99 war – was interviewed by the prosecutors for four days from July 13. “They can easily conclude that I have not committed any war crimes,” Thaci had told the media on July 17, after the interview ended.

The Prosecutor’s Office announced on June 24 that it had filed a ten-count indictment, charging Thaci, PDK leader Kadri Veseli and other former KLA members with a range of crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, enforced disappearance of persons, persecution, and torture.

A Deputy Minister for several years, Dedaj was appointed Ambassador to North Macedonia in October 2018.

“That disagreement [with the KLA] has been closed and cleared,” Dedaj told RTK, claiming that he had “explained this to the Specialist Chambers”.

Dedaj said the SPO had not asked him about alleged political killings. Instead, the prosecutors had asked him if he had received threats from anyone, and whether he would be available if summoned for another interview.

“I told them I am always ready because both Kosovo and the KLA are clean,” Dedaj said, adding that the KLA had been “an ally of NATO” during the Kosovo conflict of the 1990s. “We are the victims … It is an honour for me to testify about the pure fight of the KLA,” he said.

Dedaj said he considered the recent increased activity of the SPO “inhuman” and reflected “Russian-Serbian [pressure] and the tendencies of a political court to equalise Serbian crimes and Kosovo’s victims”.

Twelve of his own family members were killed during the Kosovo war in the late 1990s, and he said he remained determined to get the Specialist Chambers to “uncover the crimes and the Serbian genocide in Kosovo”.

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