January 25, 2011 / 3:31 AM / 8 years ago

NATO saw Kosovo's Thaci as "big fish" in crime

Kosovo's Prime Minister Hashim Thaci speaks during an interview with Reuters in Pristina December 20, 2010. REUTERS/Hazir Reka/Files

LONDON (Reuters) - Western powers backing Kosovo’s government considered its prime minister one of the country’s “biggest fish” in organised crime, Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported on Tuesday, citing leaked NATO military cables.

The newspaper said the documents, produced by NATO’s peace-keeping force in Kosovo, also described Xhavit Haliti, a senior ruling politician and a close ally of Hashim Thaci, as having links to the Albanian mafia.

The newspaper quoted a Kosovo government spokesman as dismissing the allegations in the leaked documents.

“These are allegations that have circulated for over a decade... They are based on hearsay and intentional false Serbian intelligence,” the spokesman said.

In the military reports, produced “around 2004,” Haliti is described as “the power behind Hashim Thaci” and “highly involved in prostitution, weapons and drugs smuggling.”

The newspaper did not say how the secret military cables had been leaked. Its report did not elaborate in detail on accusations against Thaci contained in the cables.

Allegations of Thaci’s involvement in organised crime were contained in a report published last month by Dick Marty, a Council of Europe rapporteur.

The report by Marty, a Swiss senator, alleged that Thaci ran an organised crime ring during and after the Kosovo Albanian guerrilla war for independence from Serbia in the late 1990s.

Marty said Thaci’s group killed opponents and trafficked in drugs and organs taken from murdered Serbs. The Kosovo government rejected that report as baseless and “slanderous.”

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