PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — The European Union has appointed U.S. prosecutor Jack Smith to head the special prosecutor's office that investigates former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army for crimes against ethnic Serbs in Kosovo's war for independence.

A statement on Monday said Smith succeeds David Schwendiman, who stepped down at the end of March when his term as a U.S. foreign service officer expired.

The special prosecutor is part of the Hague-based Kosovo court which the country's government agreed to set up in 2015 following U.S. and European pressure to confront allegations that KLA fighters committed war crimes from 1998 to 2000.

Kosovo's bloody war for independence ended with a 78-day NATO air campaign in June 1999, stopping a Serbian crackdown against ethnic Albanian separatists.

The court has yet to hear any cases.