Kosovo war crimes tribunal names American Kim West as lead prosecutor

THE HAGUE, June 2 (Reuters) – Kim West, a U.S. lawyer who was part of the team that secured a genocide conviction against former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, has been appointed lead prosecutor for the Kosovo war crimes tribunal, it announced on Friday.

She takes over from Jack Smith who left the Hague-based tribunal after being named special counsel to investigate former U.S. president Donald Trump last year.

At the Kosovo tribunal, West will oversee the trial of former president Hashim Thaci who faces charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity from his days as one of the leaders of the 1998-99 guerrilla uprising against Serbian rule.

Thaci denies the charges against him. The insurgency eventually brought Kosovo independence from Serbia and made him a hero among many compatriots at home and abroad.

The Kosovo Specialist Chambers, seated in the Netherlands and staffed by international judges and lawyers, was set up in 2015 to handle cases under Kosovo law against former Kosovo Liberation Army guerrillas.

The court was created separately from the U.N. tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), which was also based in the Hague and tried and convicted mainly Serbian officials for war crimes in the Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo conflicts.

Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg; editing by Mark Heinrich

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