Ismet Tara told BIRN on Thursday that he has been invited for interview as a suspect by the-Hague based Specialist Prosecutor’s Office, which is investigating suspects over crimes committed during and just after the Kosovo war, from 1998 to 2000.
“I was invited as someone accused of criminal offences, but they did not mention which cases,” Tara said.
He said he was invited for questioning on March 5, 6, and 7, and that he would tell the prosecutors that the KLA fought a defensive war.
“Did we go into Serbia and kill anyone? I am ready to face them, not to cooperate, because we did not go to commit crimes in Serbia, but they came and did it in Kosovo. Over 1,300 people from my municipality have been killed, burned and are missing ever since,” Tara said.
Tara served as commander of the KLA’s Brigade 124, based in the town of Rahovec/Orahovac in western Kosovo.
Tara’s invitation comes a week after another former KLA commander, Blerim Kuci, who is currently an MP with Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj’s Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, AAK party, was summoned by the Hague prosecutors.
Kuci will be questioned on March 12. Several other former senior KLA officials have also been interviewed or summoned for questioning over the last couple of months.
The Hague-based Kosovo Specialist Chambers are expected to try former KLA fighters for crimes including killings, abductions, illegal detentions and sexual violence. No indictments have been made public yet, however.
The Specialist Chambers and the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office are part of Kosovo’s legal system but are based in the Netherlands and staffed by internationals.