President of Kosovo, Hashim Thaci has resigned to face a trial over war crimes in a court in The Hague.
Kosovo is a former Province of Serbia.
Thaci revealed on Thursday that he would step down to appear before the war crimes court after an indictment had been confirmed against him dating back to the 1990s conflict with Serbia, when he was political chief of Kosovo’s rebel army.
“I will not allow under any circumstances that I appear before court as the president of the Republic of Kosovo. Therefore, in order to protect the integrity of the office of the president and the country, as well as the dignity of the citizens, I resign from the position of president of the Republic of Kosovo,” Thaci said during a press conference in the capital Pristina.
For several years, he insisted on his innocence in a war that most people in Kosovo, which is home mainly to ethnic Albanians, consider a “just” struggle for their independence from Serbian oppression.
“These are not easy moments for me and my family, and for those who have supported and believed in me in the past three decades of our struggle for freedom, independence and nation-building,” Thaci added.
The former Serbian leader was accused by prosecutors in June of ten counts of crimes including charges of murder, enforced disappearance of persons, persecution, and torture.
Thaci did not say which specific charges had been confirmed, while the prosecutors declined to comment.
The Kosovo Specialist Chambers which was set up with the backing of the European Union ng in 2015, operates under Kosovo law but is based in The Hague to protect witnesses from intimidation in a society where many former rebel commanders still dominate politics.