Ex-Kosovo leader Thaci denies charges at Hague-based court

BRUSSES (AP) — The Kosovo president Hashim Thaci, who renounced war crimes and other claims of executions, torture, and oppression, told a Netherlands special court Monday that he refused all the charges he had faced.

In the Kosovo war of independence from Serbia in the late 1990s, Thaci, 52, served as a guerrilla leader before gaining political notoriety in the wake of a conflict which killed a population of more than 10,000.

Thaci and other former Rebel figures have been charged with 10 violations against humanity and war crimes for heading Kosovo Liberation Army combatants convicted of arbitrary detention, torture and assassination of imprisoned opposition supporters and suspected traitors in the war by an international prosecutor.

He said "I plead not guilty to all of the charges of an indictment in a preliminary session at the Haag Court on Monday." On Monday's presentation a preliminary judge assured that the interests of Thaci were protected and he recognized the accusation.

Thaci was the chairman of Kosovo last week until he was assigned to the detention branch of the Court.

Most of the citizens who died from the war in Kosovo in 1998-1999 were Albanian ethnicities and 1,641 still have no record.

The struggle ended with a 78 day NATO air struggle against Serb soldiers.

A 2011 Council of Europe study was released in which the court and prosecutor's offices were established, including claims that KLA combatants have trafficked human organs taken from hostages, and have murdered Serbs and Albanian ethnic fellow citizens.

The charges of organ theft were not contained in the Thaci indictment.

Kosovo proclaimed its independence from Serbia in 2008, which Belgrade refuses to accept.

Despite the nine years of EU-led talks with the United States and assisted by the European Union, relations between Kosovo and Serbia remain strained.