A former officer of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) Salih Mustafa told a judge of the Specialists Court for his former army's 1999 war crimes he was not guilty as charged.
"I plead not guilty, your honour," Mustafa said.
Before the plea, he said: "The KLA war for freedom was just, honourable, and unavoidable due to the long time occupation of the chauvinist and fascist Serbs with a genocidal intention led by (late Serbia's strongman) Slobodan Milosevic."
Mustafa is charged with arbitrary deprivation of freedom, cruel treatment, torture and murder.
"I had no choice but to go to the war for freedom and democratic institutions of my state," he told the Court.
According to the indictment, Mustafa was "the commander of the guerrilla unit of the Security Information Agency, which belonged to the KLA Lab operational zone."
The crimes of which Mustafa is accused were committed against at least six people "on a property in the town of Zlas in Kosovo that served as a prison", from April 1 to April 19, 1999. One prisoner was killed.
The indictment says the victims were Albanians because, during the interrogation and abuse, Mustafa referred to the prisoners as 'spies' or asked them to 'identify spies.'
The indictment also charges Mustafa with the discrimination of prisoners 'on political grounds,' what suggests they were people whom the KLA saw as political opponents among Albanians.
According to the indictment, Mustafa's unit had "500-600 soldiers who operated mainly in the urban areas of Pristina and Obilic and their surroundings, as well as in the area of Goljak, where the village of Zlas is located.
Mustafa is accused of being a participant in a joint criminal enterprise, together with his subordinate KLA soldiers, "Commander Tabuti, Ilma Vel, Bimi, Dardan, Afrim" and others, whose aim was to commit the aforementioned crimes."
According to prosecutors, "throughout the incriminating period, Salih Mustafa was the commander of the Agency's unit and a recognised leader in prison in Zlas. Both de jure and de facto, he led and commanded KLA members who committed the crimes listed in the indictment."