April 14, 2000
PROTECT BISHOP FROM ANGRY FLOCK
KFOR troops have
been drafted in to protect the Serbian Orthodox Bishop
Artemije from a furious Serbian mob demanding he leave the Gracanica
By Zvonko Tarle
is living in a state of siege after enraged Serbian radicals
gathered at his monastery in Gracanica to demand his expulsion from
The angry crowds
surrounded the monastery on April 4 following a decision by the Serb
National Council (SNV) which Bishop Artemije leads, to take part as
observers alongside Albanians in the Provisional Administrative Council
of Kosovo (PAVK) sponsored by Bernard Kouchner, head of the UN Mission
The crowd chanted,
"Kosovo is Serbian, Gracanica is ours." Some
demonstrators even threatened to tear down the medieval monastery if
Bishop Artemije refused to leave.
Never before has
the Serbian community in Kosovo been under such pressure and in more
need of unity. Kosovo Serbs now live in enclaves under constant attack
from Albanian extremists. But a major division is developing between
those, like Bishop Artemije, who favour reconciliation, and radicals
opposed to giving any ground.
Initially the SNV
refused to join PAVK, complaining that Kouchner and the
international community were failing in their duty to protect Serbs
Now Bishop Artemije
and his colleagues have agreed to participate for three
months. Involvement beyond this period is dependent on the international
community meeting their demands.
The list of demands
include the guaranteed safety for all Kosovars,
particularly Serbs, an end to violence, a more effective and efficient
police and KFOR presence, a resolution of kidnap cases and the completion
of a detailed plan for the return of Serb and other refugees to Kosovo.
The SNV's decision
provoked vitriolic attacks from Belgrade and splits
within the organisation itself.
Slobodan Milosevic's Serbian Socialist Party and the
Serbian Radical Party of Vojislav Seselj have long campaigned against
Bishop Artemije. The ruling coalition in Belgrade perceives Artemije
opposition political leader rather than a priest. Seselj has branded
Artemije "the NATO bishop".
Outraged by the
SNV's participation in the PAVK, members of the largest
Serbian enclave in northern Mitrovica have split from the organisation.
Arguing that they represent the majority of Serbs in Kosovo, this group
promised to form an "authentic" Serbian National Council.
The atmosphere is
now highly inflammable. In Orahovac, on April 10, Randjel Nojkic, a
member the Provisional Administrative Council, was beaten up as he tried
to explain the reasons for the SNV decision. And now Bishop Artemije
lives under siege, relying on the protection of KFOR troops and surrounded
by Serbs hostile to his policies.
Father Sava Janjic,
member of the PAVK and a close associate of Bishop
Artemije, has frequently pointed out the need for Serbs to be present
those bodies deciding their destiny. He believes only by participating
the voice of the Serbian community be heard.
At the first session
attended by Serbs, on April 11, Serbian requests were
discussed, including measures to trace missing persons and to speed
trials of imprisoned Serbs. A plan for the return of Serb refugees from
Serbia and Montenegro was also on the agenda.
After the session,
Ibrahim Rugova, leader of the Albanian Kosovo Democratic League, welcomed
the participation of the Serbs and said that posts were open to Serbs
on all governing bodies.
a Serb representative on the PAVK, said she would not leave Pristina
and Kosovo but would search for ways to live alongside Albanians. Trajkovic
is convinced that a secure environment for all citizens is not far off
and that soon she will be able to attend Council sessions without a
never misses an opportunity to welcome the Serbian
representatives on board.
The problem remains,
however, that those advocating co-operation with the
international administration and Albanians are in a minority and do
represent a significant political force. Bishop Artemije appears to
more influence with the opposition in Belgrade than he does in Kosovo.
Those aligned against
the bishop, however, form a rather motley crew. Oliver
Ivanovic leads the Serbs in northern Mitrovice. But just where his
allegiances lie remains unclear. Belgrade and Serbian nationalism still
exert considerable influence in the enclave. But Ivanovic is closely
associated with Marko Jaksic of the Democratic Party of Serbia, the
opposition party led by Vojislav Kostunica.
does clearly control other anti-Artemije Serbs in the
enclaves of Strpce, Gnjilane, Leposavic, Zvecani, Kosovo Polje, and
In these centres
pro-Milosevic media outlets have been established and
information on Bishop Artemije and his activities suppressed. Pro-Milosevic
socialists in Zvecani broadcast weekly on "Novo Jedinstvo"
and "Radio S".
Pro-Milosevic people control pension and salary payments, verify personal
documents and issue passports. Belgrade also funds local health care
education in these communities.
On a superficial
level, the divide between Serbs appears to be over
co-operation with the UN mission. But that split rests on a much deeper
division between those still looking to Belgrade for answers and those,
Bishop Artemije, who recognise times have changed and that answers can
only be found in Pristina, through dialogue with the majority Albanian
Zvonko Tarle is
editor-in-chief of the independent radio station "Contact"
Plans To Return 700 Serbs To Kosovo
U.N. Expresses Security Concerns
By Peter Finn
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, April 16, 2000; Page A01
April 15-The United States is planning the first
coordinated effort to resettle Serbs in Kosovo, despite the serious
reservations of the U.N. refugee agency, which believes they cannot
protected from revenge attacks by ethnic Albanians, according to U.S.,
U.N., Serbian and Albanian officials in Kosovo.
The pilot project,
which could begin as early as this summer, will involve
about 700 Serbs forced to flee the province last year. U.S. officials
they hope it will bolster the standing of the moderate Serbian leadership
within Kosovo, foster Serbian cooperation with the international
community, and test the stated commitment of ethnic Albanian politicians
a multi-ethnic society.
The idea has gotten
a cool response from U.N. officials. In an interview,
Dennis McNamara, the Balkans envoy for the U.N. High Commissioner
for Refugees, said, "We would be very happy to see the return of
displaced population, but it's very difficult to be supportive or proactive
returns at this time.
"If we were
going to promote or participate in this, the security
conditions--housing, access to services, freedom of movement--would
have to be in place," he said. "And the security conditions
are just not
Americans are moving ahead with the effort. "Conditions
are never going to be perfect, and there is never going to be a perfect
moment," said one U.S. official. "This is something that has
to start, even
on a small scale."
No decision on a
site has been made, but U.S. officials are leaning toward
the village of Osojane, near Istok in northwestern Kosovo, which was
visited by State Department officials last week. The village was inhabited
by Serbs until last summer, when ethnic Albanian arsonists bent on revenge
destroyed it shortly after NATO peacekeepers entered Kosovo.
Osojane, which would
be rebuilt with U.S. funds, is being considered in
part because the ethnic Albanian mayor of the region, Januz Januzi,
supports the return of all displaced people to Kosovo. He has had an
ongoing dialogue for the past six months with the one remaining Serbian
enclave of 70 people in his area.
In addition, U.S.
officials believe Januzi--a longtime activist who served
nine years in a Serbian prison, helped found the Kosovo Liberation Army,
and fought and was wounded in its guerrilla campaign against Serbian
forces last year--has the standing to help sell the idea to the local
very impressed with him," said one U.S. official.
Januzi said his
history of commitment to the cause of Kosovo has so far
inoculated him from local grumbling about his contacts with Serbs, but
cautioned that repatriation will fail unless Serbs who live or want
to live in
the area make some apology for the atrocities Serbian government forces
committed against ethnic Albanians last year.
"I am for the
return of Serbs," said Januzi, 42. "It is their right, but
want it to fail. For me, it will be easier to talk to Albanians and
should accept the apology and move on.' It would be a historic step,
I'm convinced Albanians can forgive."
Januzi noted that
29 Serbs returned to a village near Istok last November
but fled again after 48 hours when 10,000 ethnic Albanians marched on
although they would welcome an apology by the returning
Serbs, don't view it as a prerequisite for starting the project. And
Osojane is a secluded village in a valley, they believe it can be adequately
protected by NATO-led peacekeepers until conditions improve and allow
Serbs to move freely in the province again.
There are very few
ethnic Albanians living in the valley, which holds a
series of sacked villages, but interviews with about a dozen people
Osojane indicate that residents are willing to accept the return of
Serbian former neighbors.
didn't do anything can come back," said Takek Deskaj, 21,
whose family home was burned.
have any problem with us," said Lumnije Kerellaj, 32. "We
might be a little afraid of them, but I think it will be okay."
The U.S. initiative
gained momentum after Serbian Orthodox Bishop
Artemije visited Washington in February. His church has been a
long-standing critic of the government of Yugoslav President Slobodan
Milosevic, but it and other moderate Serbian elements have been reluctant
to cooperate with the interim U.N. administration in Kosovo because
ghettoized Serbian community remains angry that Serbs still have little
guarantee of security in the province. In addition, Milosevic has tried
brand moderate Serbs who made contacts with U.S. and U.N. officials
U.S. Secretary of
State Madeleine K. Albright urged Artemije to work
with U.N. administrative bodies, which Serbs had been boycotting. In
return for agreeing to participate in the U.N. institutions, Artemije
for "visible signs" of progress for Serbs, including improved
radio station to get a moderate message out, and some effort to begin
returning Serbs to their homes. Of the estimated 200,000 Serbs in Kosovo
before the war, approximately three-fourths have fled since NATO
coming back, it's pointless to work on other issues with
the international community," said the Rev. Sava Janjic, secretary
Artemije. "The future of Kosovo Serb moderates depends on returns.
this fails, we are dead."
Janjic also noted
that he and the bishop have repeatedly condemned the
violence that befell ethnic Albanians, expressed their shame and asked
forgiveness. But, he said, their efforts rarely are reported by the
Albanian media. He said he was willing to restate the sorrow of Serbian
moderates for the ethnic Albanian press if it would help people accept
"We don't hear
each other," he said.
After Albright agreed
to work on all three of the bishop's requests, a Serb
finally attended the U.N.-sponsored Kosovo Transitional Council as an
observer last month. Sava said he expects the Serb representative to
a permanent seat in three months if the U.S. repatriation project is
Last week, the State
Department team toured the province to push the
project forward and meet with ethnic Albanian leaders, including former
KLA commander Hashim Thaqi, to inform them of their plans and get
them on board publicly.
this needs support," Thaqi said in an interview. "Kosovo has
own institutions now, and we have an obligation to see the return of
Kosovo citizens, Serb and Albanian."
According to a U.S.
official, however, Thaqi cautioned that it would be
particularly important to carefully explain the process to ethnic Albanians.
He also said the reconstruction of Serbian villages should be balanced
similar efforts for Albanians in the Istok area.
"This can be
done," Thaqi said. "It will be difficult, but it's not mission
Most of those Serbs
who will be resettled were original residents of the
valley, although they may also bring friends or relatives with them,
according to those familiar with the plan. U.S. officials rejected suggestions
that ethnic Albanians should vet lists of those Serbs returning, but
United Nations is likely to check for suspected war criminals, officials
Even as the United
States plans the resettlement effort, Serbs who have
remained in Kosovo continue to fear for their safety and ask the U.N.
refugee agency to evacuate, McNamara said. Hundreds of Serbs have
been killed or have disappeared since the war ended; most, officials
suspect, were targeted by vengeful ethnic Albanians.
Although the rate
of killing has fallen in recent months--primarily because
Serbs are now largely sealed off in guarded ghettos from Albanians--ethnic
violence continues. Four Serbs were slain in the last two weeks, U.N.
officials noted. McNamara said the current priority of the international
community should be safeguarding those Serbs in Kosovo, not creating
more Serb enclaves that would be at risk for attack.
The NATO-led peacekeeping
mission, which comes under Spanish
command on Monday, also is leery of the U.S. project, and it is unclear
what troops would guard the Serbs brought back under the pilot program.
The Istok area, including Osojane, is now patrolled by Spanish soldiers;
is unclear whether U.S. troops would also be brought in.
In any case, peacekeepers
are likely to resist any large-scale resettlement
of Serbs. Last week, officials here expressed astonishment when a NATO
official in Brussels said that 25,000 Serbs could return to their homes
Kosovo this summer.
said one military official. "I don't know what hat that figure
pulled out of. Even something small, like the U.S. proposal, troubles
2000 The Washington Post Company
Moderates Want Serbs To Return
By Alison Mutler
Associated Press Writer
Sunday, April 16, 2000; 3:36 p.m. EDT
-- Moderate Serbs on Sunday threatened to
stop cooperating with reconciliation efforts if Serb refugees who fled
Kosovo do not begin returning in substantial numbers within three months.
"If in three
months, there is no beginning of this process, Bishop Artemije
and other members of the (Serb Orthodox) church will leave the political
arena," the Rev. Sava Janjic said.
The presence of
Serb moderates in a U.N.-led de facto government that
includes ethnic Albanians is seen as crucial for lessening the mistrust
hatred dividing Kosovo's Albanians and Serbs.
Janjic spoke at
a 14th-century monastery south of Pristina that has
become the unofficial base for moderate Serbs. The church group is
considered the backbone of the moderate Serb faction.
Serbs ended a four-month
boycott of the U.N.-led council last week
when moderate Rada Trajkovic attended a council meeting. The boycott
was called to underscore Serb complaints that the council was
attacks by Albanians on Serbs are a near-daily
occurrence. The attacks are by ethnic Albanians seeking revenge for
President Slobodan Milosevic's 18-month crackdown against Kosovo,
which sparked NATO's bombing campaign against Yugoslavia last year.
Serb moderates said
they returned to the council to press for the return of
some of the 200,000 Serbs who had lived in Kosovo but have taken
refuge in Serbia proper. While acknowledging that is not a realistic
for the near future, Janjic said Serbs must begin to return.
He said he was aware
of tentative U.S.-sponsored plans to return 700
Serbs to the village of Osojane in northwestern Kosovo this summer.
U.N. officials have expressed concerns over the plan and whether the
safety of the Serbs could be guaranteed.
Janjic said the
success of the Serb return was essential for the political
survival of moderate Serbs.
"It will stress
the willingness of the international community to bring back
Serbs ... and it will be a test for ethnic Albanian leaders," he
The return of Serbs
to Kosovo remains one of the most contentious issues
facing the province and its leaders. Last week, the council discussed
Serb plan for the return of some 20,000 Serbs into areas that were
predominantly Serb before their inhabitants fled.
In the latest development
reflecting ethnic tensions, about 40 Serbs jailed
in Kosovska Mitrovica, north of Pristina, announced Sunday they would
isolate themselves in their cells and would continue to refuse food
their claims of anti-Serb bias are properly investigated.
The Serbs went on
a hunger strike Wednesday, protesting what they said
was unfair treatment at the U.N.-run jail and demanding quick trials,
Serb spokesman Nikola Kabasic.
Also Sunday, thousands
of ethnic Albanians Sunday crossed the border
into Albania in a symbolic gesture to commemorate the flight of half
million refugees to that nation last year. The refugees were fleeing
that rocked the province and led to the NATO bombing campaign.
April 17, 2000
leveled the Serb village of Bijeljo Polje near Pec with bulldozers
250 Serbian houses
Belgrade - Two days
ago Albanian terrorists burned down and leveled with bulldozers 250
houses in the Serb village of Bijeljo Polje near Pec, report radio amateurs.
Before the Serb houses were set on fire
and leveled, they were looted by the terrorists, who drove away furniture
and other belongings using 15 trucks.
In the previous
two days in the villages of Talinovac near Urosevac and Gornja Brnjica
near Pristina seven Serb houses were looted and set on fire, and one
Serb was lightly injured with a tossed stone, reported radio amateurs.
On Friday night in the village of Gornja Brnjica the houses of Radomir
Djordjevic, Koviljka Djordjevic, Trajko Djordjevic, Branko Stolic and
Vlastimir Stolic [all Serbs] were looted. Serb sources in Orahovac indicate
that two days ago a group of young Albanians lightly injured Djordje
Simic with a tossed stone; he was treated at the nearby KFOR medical
facility. In the village of Talinovac near Urosevac the last two remaining
Serb houses belonging to Dragan and Vitko Tomic were set on fire. In
the settlement of Bosnjacka Mahala in the northern part of Kosovska
Mitrovica two days ago a bomb was tossed at the house of the Ilic family.
The bomb failed to explode. KFOR advised yesterday that on Saturday
a Romany was killed at the Pec marketplace by multiple ! gunshots. An
investigation of that murder is being carried out by UNMIK police. KFOR
indicates that two nights ago in the village of Stupelj in the municipality
of Klina one Romany was arrested after a semi-automatic rifle, a large
supply of ammunition, one bomb and two knives were found in his house.
In Prizren during the previous night five houses burned down.
April 17, 2000
in Kosovo help to fuel a family's
reports from Sverke, in Kosovo, on the animosity between
Albanians and the Egyptian Muslim minority
KOSOVO: You can
tell what kind of ammunition was used to execute Xhafer
Brahimi's mother, son and nephew because the stray bullets from the
gunfire that killed them lodged in the frozen chicken legs they were
bringing home from market.
"I saw their
horse and cart going down the track in front of our house,"
says Brahimi, a 37-yearold Kosovan man from the province's beleaguered
Egyptian Muslim community, an Albanian-speaking ethnic minority.
"As soon as
I heard automatic gunfire, I looked down through binoculars.
When I saw the horse stop I knew they were dead," he sobs, wiping
as he looks at their three coffins laid out on the new spring grass
his farm compound in the western Kosovan village of Sverke.
The Brahimi killings
were just three out of an estimated 12 murders of
ethnic minorities to have taken place in Kosovo in the last 10 days,
Murders of Serbs,
Roma Gypsies and Egyptians have more than trebled since the beginning
Who fired 10 Kalashnikov
bullets into the sternum of Xhafer Brahimi's
78-year-old mother? Who executed his 17-year-old son, Fidan? Whose hunting
rifle was fired pointblank into his 18year-old nephew, Muharem, as he
sat on the horse-drawn cart?
The answer depends
on whom you talk to. The 150 mourners who have gathered around the three
newly dug graves under the oak trees at the bottom of the farm will
give you different answers.
last year 10 Albanian men came to the gates of the compound at
night," says Xhafer. "They had guns. They tried to break down
They were asking for grapes."
For grapes read
the Brahimi family vineyard. For the vineyard read land. For
land read money. Throw in Kosovo, and it all ends up as a revenge blood
"It's all about
this damn land," says his aunt, shaking her head as she
looks around at the gathered womenfolk of the family. Thirty-five of
wearing traditional Muslim head-scarves, are weeping loudly over the
coffins draped in gaudily coloured fluffy blankets.
"When the men
couldn't break down the gate," continues Xhafer, "they shot
through it. I returned fire from the house and hit one man in the leg.
went down, and by mistake shot another, killing him."
In fine Albanian
tradition, there began a family blood feud. Death avenged
by death. The killing of women and children against the rules. Repeat
not a single man is left alive.
hasn't really left the compound since the summer," says Xhafer's
brother, offering around Coca-Cola and cigarettes as the women wail
and the sun shines strongly. "When my aunt, son and nephew did,
they were followed from here to market and back, and then killed."
Among the dandelions
in a quiet corner of the farm, they've dumped the cart
on which the three family members died. Most of the blood's been scrubbed
off, but you can see the bullet-scarred wood, the rust-coloured stains.
>From here you can almost understand what the feud is all about.
God's country. Fertile fields, gently sloping ploughed furrows, plentiful
space. All 60 acres of it. Through the sky above the valley clatters
Italian NATO helicopter.
will not come and protect us," says Xhafer Brahimi. "We've
asked several times, we know the people that did this."
UN policemen based
in the town of Peja, 15 km distant, did come to
investigate the killings. No arrests have yet been made.
Fifty of the Brahimi
clan live here on the edge of the ruined village of
Sverke, a predominantly Serb community whose houses were totally destroyed
by Albanians just after NATO entered Kosovo last June.
"The rest live
in Germany, which is where we're going if these killings
continue," says Xhafer. "The people that did this, before
the war they used
to co-operate with the Serbs. Now they're common criminals."
There's no doubt
that ethnic animosity between Albanians and the Egyptian
minority have worsened relations in the village, as have accusations
complicity and collaboration with Serb military units, whose programme
ethnic cleansing of the Kosovan Albanian population in spring 1999 reached
its apogee in the Peja region.
The graves lie in
a fenced-off area 20 metres by 20, and it's hard not to
think that if you came back in a year's time, the feud would still be
continuing and UN police would still not have got to the bottom of it.
April 18, 2000
National Council of Kosovo and Metohija advises
Pressure by the
regime is increasing
- The Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija (SNV KiM) advised
yesterday that representatives of the regime in Belgrade have
been waging a campaign for days against the
Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo and officials of the SNV KiM.
In its statement
the SNV says that after physical attacks by a group of those most
aggressive on the monastery of Gracanica, representatives of the
regime are now beginning to organize so-called
petitions, by means of which the attempt is being made to
create the appearance that the Serb people of Kosovo and Metohija support
the regime against their bishop.
In the statement
it is further said that people who are still in shock from everyday
suffering are being told that the petitions are directed against Kouchner,
KFOR and the bishop, who is with them.
which is accusing the Church and the SNV of treason of course cannot
offer any kind of solution to alleviate the suffering of the people.
Again making their rounds in Kosovo are various ministers and deputy
ministers of the same government which by its catastrophic policies
led the people into the existing situation, it is said in the
statement and emphasized that wherever the members of this body
have had the opportunity to acquaint the people with the full text of
the requests which accompany the decision to join the temporary administration
in the capacity of observer, we have received full support.
This political body of the Kosovo Serbs advises that rational
and strictly conditional cooperation with the international community
is the only way that the expelled Serbs can return to their homes and
Resolution 1244, which is untenable with the regime of president Milosevic,
can be fulfilled.
The fact that
Albanian politicians are most afraid of democratic changes in Serbia
best illustrates who is the best friend, and who is the enemy, of the
Serbian people, it is underlined in the statement.
Translated by Snezana
Lazovic (April 18, 2000)
POST, Monday, April 24, 2000
mob invades Italy
The collapse of
law and order across the Adriatic has created a criminal
element that even the Mafia fears
- Johnny knows just how brutal the Albanian mafia can
be. The former auto mechanic for Saddam Hussein turns his head away
starts to cry as he describes how his friend was shot in front of him
and his body dumped into the Adriatic Sea.
Like thousands of
others, Johnny's family scraped together $6,000 (US)
to have him smuggled into Italy with a group of other Iraqis. But when
they reached the Albanian port of Vllore, the smugglers demanded more.
One family handed over a gold necklace and Johnny had enough money to
satisfy them. His friend had only his watch.
he said to Johnny. "They are going to kill me."
Now hiding in a
refugee hostel in southern Italy protected by police,
the young Iraqi weeps as he recalls his friend's words.
Ten years ago, few
people knew anything about Albania. Today, its
gangsters have become so notorious for violence they give even Italian
In the north, the
Albanians have taken the prostitution racket away from
the country's toughest Mafia branch, the 'Ndrangheta. In the south,
control the drugs, guns, prostitution and human smuggling across the
Adriatic and have forced an alliance with the local Mafia group. Even
priests who work with women sold into sexual slavery must travel with
bodyguards for fear the Albanian kidnappers will take revenge.
Now Italian investigators
suspect a flood of cocaine into the country
may be the result of Albanian criminals working in the United States,
connection being probed by Italian police and the Federal Bureau of
mafia is especially violent," said Cataldo Motta, a Mafia
prosecutor in the province of Puglia in southern Italy. "We know
fight against the Mafia, but now we have a new one -- and it is a
foreign culture we don't understand."
is also the view of Italians on the other side of the
"I hate Albanians.
Their criminals have become rich and we've become
poor. They have a lot of money because they work with girls and drugs,"
a cigarette smuggler told the National Post.
"Both the Mafia
and Albanians are violent but at least the Mafia has
some rules," went on the man, who was shot by local mafiosi in
two years ago. "The Albanians don't care about life at all, they'll
you without reason."
But those who suffer
most are ordinary Albanians.
are terrified of these gangs," said Natasha Shehu, an
Albanian lawyer living in Italy, whose clients include many people
smuggled in by the mafia. "The criminals have nothing to lose --
other jobs, and no stable political situation to control them."
The east coast of
Puglia is only 80 kilometres from Albania. But from
1945 to 1990, when the Albanian communist dictatorship collapsed,
Italians knew little about their neighbours.
But after 1990,
the refugees started to arrive -- more than 80,000 in
the past decade. Italy was forced to take an interest, sending aid as
well as soldiers and police to try and reduce the chaos exported by
Albanian gangs quickly
branched out from ferrying their countrymen
across the Adriatic. They became one of the main conduits for illegal
immigrants trying to slip into Europe. Today, even Chinese immigrants
travel through Albania after being flown to Moscow and bused to Vllore.
With the refugees
came prostitutes, drugs and weapons for the Italian
Mafia, often stolen from the communist arsenals.
in Puglia say every drug smuggler they catch is
Albanian, often clandestini, refugees who are working off the cost of
their $500 (US) passage.
The Albanian mafia
grew out of the country's decade-long collapse.
Though they started as groups of low-level hoods and smugglers, they
have developed into sophisticated -- and little understood --
organizations that have profited from globalization, like their
counterparts in Eastern Europe and South America, with whom they are
In the mid 1990s,
the Albanian mafia even brought over cocaine- growing
experts from Columbia to help introduce the crop to Albania, which
already produces heroin and marijuana.
The success of the
Albanian gangs is due, in part, to their
apprenticeship under the Italian Mafia with whom they have now formed
between the Italian and Albanian criminals started in the
early 1990s," said Angelo Loconte, chief investigator with the
crime unit in Brindisi.
were used by the Italians to do their dirty work, the
jobs that had previously been done by people under 18 who would not
sent to jail. The Albanians were willing to kill and they just didn't
take life as seriously. They became the street dealers and the enforcers
... The Italians were the brains and the Albanians became their hands."
By 1993, the Albanians
were working independently and Puglia's local arm
of the Mafia, the Sacra Corona Unita (United Sacred Crown) realized
was better to make a deal with the newcomers than fight them.
were good teachers but now the pupils are better,"
commented Ms. Shehu.
Their success in
Italy was partly due to the organizational structure of
the Sacra Corona Unita, the country's youngest Mafia organization. This
group, which sprang up during the 1980s, is essentially a collection
regional gangs, linked like beads on a rosary. Its existence was not
uncovered until the early 1990s when a series of high-profile court
cases resulted in the arrest of many of its leaders.
This created an
opportunity for the Albanian gangs, who penetrated
Puglia like an alien virus encountering a weak immune system. But the
virus has so far defied analysis. It is striking how little is known,
even in Italy, about the Albanian crime syndicates.
"We have only
one document from the DIA [Italy's anti-Mafia agency]
about the Albanian mafia," said Michele Emiliano, the Mafia prosecutor
who first uncovered and prosecuted the Sacra Corona Unita.
"In it they
wrote that the Albanian mafia is based on family groups, but
we have to be careful before saying that they are similar to the Italian
Mafia because we don't really have very much evidence. The division
among clans or family groups in Albania was originally a social
division, not a criminal one. Today, every activity in Albania still
works in that way."
But the Italians
cannot investigate the criminals' organizations based
in Albania because the justice system there is barely functioning. Italy
also refuses to have any agreements with Albania because reciprocity
would require that Italian citizens be exposed to the Albanian court
"I am pessimistic
about the future -- it's hard to control the Cosa
Nostra, but it is impossible to control what is going on in Albania.
channel of illegal traffic there is completely open," said Mr.
who travels with bodyguards wherever he goes.
are a lot of Albanians in Italy, they understand our system,
and it is becoming impossible to fight them. For instance, we often
imprison the same people twice, but we don't even know it because they
have so many forms of false I.D."
The Albanian mafias
have now forged business relationships with their
Italian counterparts, becoming part of the local system.
'Ndrangheta out of the prostitution in the north of Italy
was probably a mistake, but the Albanians are very violent and they
just starting out -- they had not learned any 'diplomacy,' " he
explained. "Now the two groups don't want to fight with each other,
just want to make money."
everyone ready?" asks Inspector Roberto Barnaba. "Andiamo,
Wearing jeans with
his ponytail hanging over a leather jacket, he looks
like a young Harvey Keitel as he leads dozens of uniformed special
police in flak jackets over a low stone wall and across the fields
toward a gubbia, Pugliese dialect for a smuggler's hideout. The old
farm, surrounded by almond trees, is the perfect place to keep drugs
refugees until they can be smuggled to northern Italy.
But the hour-long
search of its vaulted rooms and outbuildings turns up
nothing more than tire tracks and the remains of some satanic rituals.
Insp. Barnaba and his patrol get back into their blue police vans and
continue their patrol, looking for clandestini who arrive almost every
night on the nearby beaches.
Driving down to
the sea, the patrol stops among the brush oak stands of
a World Wildlife-protected area lying between the Adriatic and the main
highway, a favourite depot of the human smugglers. Empty packs of L&M
cigarettes, unknown in Italy but popular in Albania, lie scattered
around piles of discarded clothes and shoes.
have arrived last night," says Insp. Barnaba. Poking a pair
of women's blue underwear with his foot he says, ironically, "There
a woman among them."
The police begin
searching the underbrush for guns and drugs left by the
smugglers to be retrieved later. The refugees, who arrive at night or
early in the morning, are usually picked up by cars waiting on the
This morning the
police are too late. In the past, they have found
bodies buried in the sand of popular beaches, casualties of the
smugglers' indifference to the lives of their clients as they force
to swim ashore.
"When we got
near the beach, they pushed everybody out of the boats with
guns -- women, children, everybody -- because they didn't want to be
caught," said Johnny, the young Iraqi.
The boat that carried
him and 31 others, shivering and seasick, took 4
1/2 hours to make the crossing from Vllore. Made in Italy to the
smugglers' specifications, the fibreglass-hulled, open craft are usually
powered by two 250-horsepower engines and can reach speeds of 50 knots.
A dozen leave Vllore at the same time and land at different points in
Johnny said he left
Iraq by driving to the Turkish border. He and other
family members then walked for eight days to Istanbul. He went on alone,
joining a group of Iraqi refugees traveling with the Turkish mafia to
Bulgaria, where they were picked up by Albanians. After 20 days locked
in a house in Vllore, he was put on a boat just after his friend was
"After I arrived
in Italy, I wanted to kill all Albanians. I didn't eat
for a week I was so afraid," he said. "If I had known what
would have been like, I would have preferred to die in Iraq."
He is one of the
hundreds of Iraqis, Chinese, North Africans and others
in the Casa Regina Pacis, southern Italy's largest refugee centre, in
converted children's seaside camp. The police guarding it are not just
keeping the refugees in, they are protecting them from the Albanian
gangs that brought them over.
"We don't have
any problem with the refugees in the centre," said Don
Cesare, the Roman Catholic priest in charge, who was assigned three
bodyguards by the police after a kidnapping. "But there are people
don't like the centre because they want to keep control over the
Many of the women
here were kidnapped in Kosovo and Albania, or given
false job offers in Eastern Europe. The gangs are notoriously violent
toward women, a legacy of Albanian culture.
women are objects in Albania -- they can be sold for the
price of a cow. In the past, an Albanian girl had a bullet as part of
her dowry so that her husband could shoot her if she was not a virgin,"
explained Ms. Shehu.
This week, a 23
year-old Albanian man was arrested on a beach in Puglia
and charged with sexual slavery for forcing two Moldavian women into
prostitution. The women told police they had been sold by two Romanian
men in February to an Albanian gang. They were raped repeatedly, then
forced on to a smuggler's speedboat to Italy.
In Belgrade, a Moldavian
prostitute hoping to go to Canada as a stripper
told how she had also been tricked into prostitution. But at least,
said, she was not controlled by the Albanian gangs, who are the most
turn the women into objects before they put them to
work," said Mr. Motta. "They are kidnapped, raped and enslaved,
often sold again to others who repeat the same process, so the women
have no will of their own."
Like other mafias
that sprang up after the Cold War, the Albanian
mafia's success depends on their brutality and their ability to adapt
the global economy. They have made alliances with other crime groups
can change their activity to suit market demand.
"In the past,
to create a high-level mafia, you needed about 50 years,"
said Mr. Emiliano. "Today, you need only a few years. It is a question
of technology. Crime exists primarily in an organized form. It doesn't
exist any more as individual crime groups."
The cocaine trade
is an example of the the drug industry's
globalization, with the Turkish mafia trading heroin for cocaine from
Columbia and Albanians using international connections to ship it to
Europe though their homeland.
a new activity -- it's much more recent here than heroin,"
the Mafia prosecutor said.
"In the past,
the two were different businesses with different markets.
Now, consumers are changing. Today, we have fewer junkies using drugs
every day. Instead, the users are occasional, say on weekends, and there
are not as many addicts."
Heroin, too, is
used in a different way: Fewer people inject it, but
instead smoke it or mix it with cocaine. Dealers have to sell many
different drugs because customers want small amounts of hashish,
ecstasy, cocaine, and so on.
The Albanian mob
also has the advantage of being able to blackmail
fellow Albanian migrants around the world.
mafia has a huge capacity to expand itself. Many times
decent Albanians are obliged to help the Albanian mafia," Mr. Emiliano
"If there are
no other Albanian criminals in the country, they ask for
help from law-abiding Albanians and put pressure on their relatives
home, who have little or no police protection. "
With police unable
to keep up with these rapid changes, Mr. Emiliano
believes Europe needs an organization similar to the FBI.
"If we continue
to work only in our own countries, with all the limits
of our work, we won't be able to to transform ourselves as fast as the
But there are other,
more profound reasons, for the growth of the
mafias, said Don Cesare. He does not believe the underlying causes of
the problem will ever disappear.
"If there are
people wanting prostitutes, they will be bringing them
into the country. It's business, and there is nothing governments can
do. And there are people who need to escape where they live -- there
always will be. They are poor."
Hams Are Only Link for Serbs
By Elena Becatoros
Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, April 18, 2000; 3:09 a.m. EDT
-- A man's voice crackles through the static, faint
at first but growing stronger as the tuning knob is turned, anxiously
information about a Serb who has not been in touch with his family for
The response is
swift - inquiries will be made, and someone will visit the
person's home to ensure all is well. The province's amateur radio
operators are at work again.
war, this was a hobby. Now, it's a necessity," said Pero Kulic,
a Serb refugee from the southern town of Prizren, as he sits in the
room which serves as club headquarters for the ham radio operators in
northern village of Zvecan.
Tens of thousands
of Serbs fled Kosovo after the end of a 78-day NATO
air campaign against Yugoslavia, fearing revenge attacks by ethnic
Albanians persecuted for years by the Serb authorities. Those who remain
now live in enclaves dotted around the province and heavily guarded
With telephone lines
rarely working, amateur radio operators have
become a lifeline for those living in enclaves, helping keep relatives
touch with each other and passing on news of demonstrations or attacks
around the province to Serbia, as well as to Serb media.
The use of ham radio
operators is a tried and tested method - it was used
extensively during the war in Bosnia, when they were sometimes the only
source of information for what was occurring in besieged towns such
Srebrenica and Gorazde.
"For the time
being, the amateurs are the only connection from enclave to
enclave," explains Father Justin, the radio operator at the Christian
Orthodox monastery in Gracanica, five miles south of the provincial
of Pristina. The now entirely Serb village is located in the midst of
Albanian majority area, and is heavily guarded by Swedish peacekeeping
were among the first to organize a ham radio
operators network about three years ago, when telephone lines became
unreliable as armed conflict erupted between ethnic Albanian separatists
and the Serb authorities, Father Justin explains.
Their help became
essential after the end of NATO air strikes, he added.
"When the exodus of the Serbs began, we started exchanging
humanitarian messages, to connect families."
Most of the calls
the radio hams now handle are what they refer to as
"OK inquiries" - queries from those unable to contact friends
any other way, and those concerned about loved ones after hearing about
violence or attacks in the area, said Ljubisa Brkljac, a member of the
Zvecan radio club.
are tightly knit, and it is usually a simple matter to locate
the person. In one month, there were about 3,000 such calls, he said.
But "OK inquiries"
are not the only calls the radio amateurs make. Violent
attacks against Serbs and other minorities continue throughout the
province, and the operators make sure the world knows about it.
what the information is and which side it comes from, we're
very interested in people having the correct information," Father
said. "It's in our interest for people to know the truth, no matter
we like it or not."
Before NATO air
strikes, the Zvecan ham radio club included two ethnic
Albanians among its 35 members. Now, the two remain silent.
we have to wait for a while for tension to decrease," Father
Justin said. "I am dreaming about the day when we can do true radio
amateur work - teach people, organize clubs where Albanians and Serbs
can work together, supply each other with equipment."
of Missing Serbs Join Hands
By Jovana Gec
Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, April 19, 2000; 5:15 a.m. EDT
-- For two years, Petra Kostic has tried to find
out what happened to 15 male members of her family taken away one summer
night by ethnic Albanian rebels in Kosovo.
The family's house in the southwestern village of Ratimlje was
attacked by fighters from the Kosovo Liberation Army in July 1998. The
Kostics, one of 12 Serb families that used to live in the town, were
captured and taken to another village.
The women were released. The men were never heard from again.
"I just want to know," Petra Kostic says. "It is impossible
one knows what happened to them."
The Kostics, who fled to Belgrade after the Serb pullout from
Kosovo last year, say they've tried everything - contacting
international officials in Kosovo, non-governmental organizations, aid
groups, ethnic Albanian neighbors - all in vain.
Their case is just one of many.
Dr. Andrija Tomanovic, a well-known surgeon in the Pristina
hospital and a local Red Cross official, disappeared last June,
reportedly taken away from work by two men. His wife, Verica, does not
know whether he is alive or dead.
Dragoljub Djukanovic and his son, Jovica, were led away from their
apartment in the southwestern town of Prizren last July. Rada Djukanovic
said the ethnic Albanians who claimed they were police said her husband
and son would be back in half an hour. They never returned.
The same applies for about 20 Serbs from Istok in western Kosovo,
and many more.
"For us, all these people are alive until they are proven dead,"
said Ranko Djinovic, head of the recently formed Belgrade-based
Association of the Families of the Persons Kidnapped in Kosovo.
Djinovic said the group, which began work on March 21, includes
only relatives of people who disappeared. It has made contact with
non-governmental and international organizations hoping for some
progress in their quest for truth.
"We knock on doors of everybody who can help," Djinovic said.
have collected credible testimonies from witnesses," he added displaying
a pile of forms, with photos attached, filled out by those whose loved
ones are missing.
Thousands of people of all ethnicities have disappeared in Kosovo
since the fighting between the KLA and Serb security troops began in
1998. The International Committee of the Red Cross says about 3,000
still unaccounted for.
Djinovic says his group has information about 1,200 cases of
kidnappings of Serbs and other non-ethnic Albanians since February 1998.
He said about 75 percent occurred since last June, when NATO
bombing forced Serb troops to pull out of Kosovo and paved the way for
the return of hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanian refugees and
deployment of NATO peacekeepers.
With the international attention focused on the return of ethnic
Albanian refugees, the Serb minority found itself faced with harassment
from ethnic Albanians seeking revenge for the 1998-99 crackdown in which
thousands of ethnic Albanians were killed.
Djinovic and others say some of those missing appear to be held in
secret prison camps for non-ethnic Albanians. Although U.N. and NATO
officials deny that such camps exist, Sefko Alomerovic, the head of
Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia's predominantly Muslim
region of Sandzak, says his workers have been inside the camps.
Alomerovic says the missing are being held in at least five major
locations, which he refuses to name.
Meanwhile, the relatives of the missing wait - and grow more
"My husband did not want to leave Pristina because his conscience
was clean. He has always helped all people, both the Serbs and
Albanians," Verica Tomanovic says of her missing physician husband.
even saved the life of one KLA soldier, and now nobody will tell me
happened to him."
Milanka Petrovic, whose father and brother were abducted in Prizren
last year, also says the two stayed in Kosovo because they had done
harm to anyone.
"The good people always end up suffering," said Petrovic.
who committed crimes (against Albanians) are now walking freely
Explosions Hit Kosovo Serb Enclave
(Reuters) - Nine explosions rocked a Kosovo
Serb enclave guarded by Italian troops but no casualties were
reported, the province's NATO-led peacekeeping force said on
A KFOR statement
said three craters were found near a
peacekeepers' checkpoint on the edge of Gorazdevac, a crumbling
Serb village with some 1,000 people in western Kosovo, and six
more near a cluster of adjacent Gypsy homes.
It said the incident
occurred on Saturday evening but gave no
further details pending an inquiry.
Earlier, the independent
Serbian news agency Beta said that nine
rockets fired from a portable launcher had crashed into
Gorazdevac at around 6 p.m. (1600 GMT) on Saturday.
However, a KFOR
officer told Reuters the projectiles were probably
mortar bombs because they usually caused craters, unlike
shoulder-launched rockets or rocket-propelled grenades.
Beta said some houses
were damaged in the incident.
Gorazdevac is believed
to be the only Serb community left in
Most of Kosovo's
estimated 200,000 Serb minority fled the
Yugoslav province last year for fear of ethnic Albanian reprisals
after NATO air strikes ousted Serbian security forces who had
been waging a brutal anti-guerrilla campaign.
The ethnic Albanian
Kosovo Liberation Army was formally
disbanded and disarmed by KFOR last year but ex-guerrillas and
paramilitary gangsters alike have retained portable war weaponry
of varying kinds. Armed violence still afflicts Kosovo.
Slavery Flourishes In Kosovo
E. European Women Forced Into Brothels
By Peter Finn
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, April 24, 2000; Page A01
sex-slave traffic in East European women,
one of the major criminal scourges of post-communist Europe, is becoming
a serious problem in Kosovo, where porous borders, the presence of
international troops and aid workers and the lack of a working criminal
justice system have created almost perfect conditions for the trade,
police officials, NATO-led peacekeepers and humanitarian workers say.
In the past six
months, U.N. police and troops have rescued 50
women--Moldovan, Ukrainian, Bulgarian and Romanian--from brothels
that have begun to appear in cities and towns in Kosovo, a province
Serbia, the dominant republic of Yugoslavia. Police and aid workers
they fear that hundreds more, lured from their impoverished homelands
with the promise of riches, may also be living in sexual servitude.
have been reduced to slavery," said Col. Vincenzo
Coppola, commander of a special unit of the Italian carabinieri, or
police, in Kosovo that has rescued 23 women on raids of brothels in
Pristina, the provincial capital, and Prizren.
According to police
sources and aid workers, the women--and some girls
as young as 15--were transported along a well-established organized
crime network from their East European homelands to Macedonia, which
borders Kosovo to the south. There, they were held in motels and sold
auction to ethnic Albanian pimps for $1,000 to $2,500. The pimps work
under the protection of major crime figures in Kosovo, officials said,
including some with links to the former anti-Serbian rebel force, the
Kosovo Liberation Army.
The women, who had
been stripped of their passports, were frequently
held in unheated rooms with primitive sanitary conditions in Kosovo
forced to engage in unprotected sex, sometimes up to 16 times a night,
no payment, according U.N. police officers who requested anonymity
because of U.N. regulations limiting their authority to speak with reporters.
U.N. police force is hard-pressed to cope with a variety
of criminal activities in this war-scarred province, and authorities
workers here have been slow to respond to the burgeoning sex-slave
trade. Moreover, there are limited humanitarian resources available
protect those women who are able to seek sanctuary.
In addition, officials
said, the trade has flourished because of a lack of
applicable law on both trafficking and prostitution and because some
countries with military forces here have tended to dismiss the activity
simple prostitution. German peacekeepers in southern Kosovo, for
instance, have taken a benign view of the phenomenon in part because
prostitution is tolerated in Germany.
workers are trying to convince them that these women are
victims. "It's not classic prostitution," said one aid worker
interviewed rescued women and is working on a draft U.N. regulation
punish people involved in the sex-slave trade. "They are not paid.
never paid. Of the 50 women we have seen, not one has received a single
deutsche mark, and they are often held in horrendous conditions."
According to authorities,
the women were told that before they could keep
any of their earnings, they first had to pay the pimps for their purchase
price. Often, however, they found themselves fined for such infractions
not smiling at customers, so there was no way they would ever have
enough money to make the payoff. If they protested, the women said,
A number of the
women appear to have contracted sexually transmitted
diseases, officials said, and international groups are attempting to
treatment for them either in Kosovo or as soon as they can return to
homelands. "This is a major problem, and it is going further underground
because of police raids," said one aid worker. "At first,
it was very out in
the open, and so-called nightclubs were popping up. But now it's moving
into private dwellings, and I expect if we get a reliable phone network
soon see call-girl services."
recently established a safe house to protect
women who escape from the brothels until they can be returned home.
it is now full, with 21 women, and police have had to suspend raids
other brothels until they can repatriate some of the former captives.
declined to allow a reporter to speak to any of the
rescued women. But in bars in Pristina, Gnjilane and Urosevac, there
young Moldovan and Ukrainian women who describe themselves as
"waitresses" seeking economic opportunity in Kosovo. "I
can earn 400
deutsche marks [$200] a month," said a Moldovan woman at a cafe
Gnjilane, where beds are set up behind a dank front bar. Asked how much
cash she had on her possession, the woman said only, "I'm okay,"
ethnic Albanian bar manager looked on.
According to the
rescued women, the clientele varies from brothel to
brothel, officials said. Some serve mostly ethnic Albanians; others
a mixture of ethnic Albanians and international workers. Peacekeeping
troops--including Americans--also were customers, the women said. U.S.
officials deny that American troops visit the brothels, pointing out
soldiers are confined to base when they are off duty.
The first case of
sex-slave trafficking came to light in October--four
months after NATO-led peacekeepers entered the province--when
French police officers raided a brothel in Kosovska Mitrovica and found
two Ukrainian women, ages 21 and 22, and two Serbs, one of whom was
a minor. The establishment was closed and the Serbs were released, but
the French did not know what to do with the two Ukrainians, who had
travel documents, officials said.
According to sources
familiar with the case, the French policemen detained
the women at a military camp while they appealed, without success, to
humanitarian organizations for assistance. After two weeks, fearful
public relations disaster because of the presence of "prostitutes"
military facility, the French policemen took the two women to the
administrative boundary between Kosovo and Serbia proper and
essentially expelled them. It is unclear what happened to them.
In November and
December, further cases of forced prostitution came to
light when U.N. policemen visited a number of bars in Pristina--bars
such names as Totos and the Miami Beach Club--and removed women
who appealed to them for help.
On Jan. 22, officers
with the Italian police unit entered an establishment on
the outskirts of Pristina called the International Club, where they
approached by women asking for help. The club, now closed, was a crude
structure with a small bar and barren rooms in the back that were
equipped with just a bed and a red light bulb. Some women were kept
an attic. The following night, the Italians raided the club and rescued
women, mostly Moldovans and Ukrainians, who appealed for sanctuary.
The Italians were
criticized for conducting the raid without coordinating
with the U.N. police and humanitarian organizations who then had to
assume care of the women. But their efforts did lead to official recognition
of the problem and the creation of the safe house in early February.
That has allowed
international workers to interview the women and
understand the process by which they were brought into the sex industry.
In the last 10 years, according to women's advocacy groups, hundreds
thousands of women from the former Soviet republics and satellites have
been trafficked to Western Europe, Asia and the United States. Kosovo,
which had some local prostitution but no trafficking problem before
peacekeepers arrived after the Kosovo war ended last June, is just another
new market, officials said.
Most of the women
interviewed responded to newspaper ads seeking
"attractive women" to work in the West and, in fact, knew
work in the sex industry. A small minority told police they had been
kidnapped or were completely deceived when they applied for jobs in
West, including one Moldovan teenager who got pregnant in Kosovo,
police officials said.
we've spoken to left their countries of their own volition and
basically knew they would work as prostitutes," said a U.N. police
in Gnjilane. "But they thought they could earn thousands of dollars
exotic location like Italy or Spain and then go home rich. Instead,
up imprisoned here without a dime."
Sunday Telegraph (UK)
Sunday 23 April 2000
raises money in Britain for arms
By David Bamber
and Chris Hastings
THE Kosovan Liberation
Army is raising money in Britain to pay for arms
shipments, although it has been ordered by Nato to stop acting as a
have confirmed that they are funding the KLA's
"divinely inspired" struggle against Serbs in Kosovo. The
Telegraph has learned that fundraising events are being held by mosques
and internet groups.
There are also regular
appeals on a fundamentalist web site.
The disclosure that funds are still being raised for the banned
fighting force coincides with fears that Muslims may be responsible
for a series of prescription frauds in the London area. Security sources
activists and their families are illegally obtaining drugs then selling
them on the black market to raise funds for Jihad struggles including
the one in Kosovo.
They also claim
many of the drugs are shipped direct to frontline
fighting units. Although the KLA has officially stopped acting as a
military organisation in Kosovo, its members are still carrying out
armed attacks on the few remaining Serbs in the province. Cash to pay
for their arms is being raised by groups throughout Western Europe
Sheikh Omar Bakri
Mohammed, the head of the political wing of the
International Islamic Front, said: "We are continuing to suport
fighters in Kosovo. We are raising funds for them and our comrades who
are struggling against oppression in Albania. We are doing it because
we believe the KLA should rearm."
the KLA is not illegal, fundraising in Britain for
violent activities abroad will be outlawed under new anti-terrorism
laws. Fundraising for the KLA is believed to centre on the
International Islamic Front, founded by Osama bin Laden, the Afghani
terrorist leader, which has a wing in Britain.
Last year The Telegraph
revealed that London-based Sheikh Abu Hamza
runs basic military training courses for volunteers.
of Kosovo Serbs Worries U.N.
By Alison Mutler
Associated Press Writer
Saturday, April 22, 2000; 11:13 a.m. EDT
-- A U.S.-backed plan to start resettling Serbs in
Kosovo soon has U.N. officials fearful that events are moving too fast
could unhinge efforts to calm the province.
They note that exhumations
of mass graves are expected to resume this
week, ethnic Albanians are facing political trials in Serbia and relations
between ethnic Albanians and Serbs remain strained at best.
Some U.S. officials,
speaking on condition of anonymity, also have
expressed alarm over the potential for a surge of revenge attacks.
in the U.N.-led Kosovo administration said Bishop
Artemije, a moderate Serb leader, got approval for the resettlement
when he met with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in Washington
Moderate Serb leaders
argue that resettlement must begin to silence
criticism by Serb hard-liners who say the moderates have betrayed
Kosovo's dwindling Serb community. Only about 100,000 Serbs are
believed to be in the province now, about half the number before the
The climate does
seem to be turning slightly more peaceful. Although
Serb-Albanian hatreds still lead to frequent killings, moderate Serbs
ethnic Albanian leaders Wednesday in urging tolerance, an unusual mutual
gesture of conciliation.
proposal calls for 700 Serbs to be settled in the
village of Osojane as early as next month, and there is also a vaguer
U.N.-sponsored plan to bring back 20,000 people.
Opponents of the
idea contend the effort is motivated by political reasons
- to demonstrate to skeptical voters in the NATO nations that the
alliance's bombing of Yugoslavia was a good idea and that things are
turning out all right in Kosovo.
"We have a
pressure to prove that everything was done for the right
reasons and that there has been a success. A success would be the
large-scale return of people," said Paula Ghedini, a spokeswoman
United Nations refugee agency.
In Istok, close
to the desolate and shattered Serb village of Osojane, there
are doubts a return will work just now.
"It could be
dangerous," said Martin Dvorak, the U.N. administrator of
Istok, a mountain town of about 7,000 people in western Kosovo. At the
same time, he said, he understands "the need to see visible progress."
U.S. officials appear
to be hoping to get support for the resettlement plan
from Januz Januzi, an Albanian activist and fighter for the disbanded
Kosovo Liberation Army who spent 10 years in Serbian jails.
That may not be
likely. Januzi's overtures of reconciliation sound a rare
positive note in the province and he has said Serbs who did not commit
abuses against Albanians have a right to return. But he also says that
a period of reconciliation is necessary."
Januzi says it will
take "two, three or four years" for hatreds to die down
sufficiently to permit the safe return of Serbs.
That is too long
for the moderate Serbs who recently rejoined Kosovo's
U.N.-led administration to press for repatriation of Serbs.
"If they don't
return, we won't have anything in our hands to say
(cooperation) is profitable," said Father Sava Janjic, a spokesman
14th century Gracanica monastery, the unofficial base for the moderates.
He said large-scale
returns would "shut the mouths" of both the
government of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and Serb
hard-liners in Kosovo, both of which oppose cooperation with Kosovo
In Serbia proper,
where more than 100,000 displaced Serbs crowd
refugee camps and other temporary quarters, impatience is building.
Wednesday, some 500 Serbs rallied in Kraljevo vowing to go back.
In the Kosovo village
of Crkolez, home to a few hundred Serbs and
ethnic Albanians, a half dozen Serb pig farmers sharing pear brandy
around a large table said returns must go ahead.
"It is going
to be a big step for the United Nations, a big step for the Serbs
and a big step for ethnic Albanians. But it is a big mistake if it doesn't
succeed," said Zikica Belosevik.
from ethnic Albanians, two-thirds of Crkolez's Serb
residents fled after Yugoslav forces pulled out of Kosovo last June.
Hashim Thaci, the
former guerrilla leader who is now perhaps the most
influential Albanian politician in Kosovo, said he agrees "in principle"
multiethnic society. But he cautions against haste.
"We have to
work at building institutions. We have to bear in mind mass
graves, about 5,000 ethnic Albanians kept as hostages in Serb jails,"
said in an interview. "The return of Serbs won't be beneficial
if it is
The Boston Globe
April 22, 2000
blunts Kosovo police effort
By Kevin Cullen,
Globe Staff, 4/22/2000
- She was petite, said she was 15 years old, had
just beaten a man to death with a pipe, and wasn't the least bit
interested in protesting her innocence.
''Hey,'' the girl
told her police interrogators, dismissing their questions
wave of her hand, ''we can talk about anything you want, but this was
an Austrian detective who heads the homicide squad here,
looked to Tom Pellegrini, a homicide detective from Baltimore, and rolled
his eyes. Two months later, the girl walked free after her family showed
with a birth certificate that claimed she was only 13, below the age
people here can be held criminally responsible. ''Welcome to the Balkans,''
Gortano told a disbelieving Pellegrini.
Here in Kosovo,
a year after NATO launched its war against Yugoslavia,
the hatred is as thick as the smog that shrouds Pristina, the capital.
ago, Serbs ran roughshod over the ethnic Albanians who make up 90
percent of the 2 million population, killing thousands and driving nearly
million from their homes.
But what goes around
always comes around in the Balkans, and today
Albanians are exacting their revenge, killing Serbs and forcing them
Trying to stop or
at least stem the violence is a group of about 2,400 police
officers drafted from 45 countries by the United Nations. They are fighting
an uphill battle, slogging against a maddening UN bureaucracy, a nearly
nonexistent criminal justice system, and the utter refusal by many people
adhere to the rules of civil society. They are undermanned, underequipped,
and increasingly disillusioned.
Police drive red
and white Toyota sports utility vehicles, leading the locals to
nickname them ''the Coca-Colas.'' Despite their presence, some 500
people, most of them Serbs, have been murdered since the war ended last
June. Few of the killers have been apprehended, and still fewer have
Pristina has a well-established
code of silence, which means murderers
usually go unpunished. Some potential witnesses fear retribution, while
others approve of the revenge killings. Even when innocents are killed,
witnesses keep quiet.
Last fall, a UN
worker from Bulgaria was walking with two British
colleagues in Pristina's main pedestrian area when a group of Albanian
youths, suspecting him to be a Serb, asked him the time in Serbian.
replied in Serbian, the young men beat him savagely before one of them
pulled a gun and shot him in the head.
''There were at
least 50 or 60 people who witnessed the whole thing. We
told some of the witnesses that this guy had come here to help them,
one would cooperate,'' said Gortano.
In November, a 62-year-old
Serbian university professor, his 51-year-old
wife, and their 76-year-old female friend were set upon by a crowd
returning from an Albanian Flag Day celebration. The professor and one
the women were beaten to death. Again, despite hundreds of witnesses,
one came forward.
Police said the
minority of Serbs still in Kosovo are similarly uncooperative.
In north Mitrovica, the last large Serb enclave, Serbian men who were
that a Serbian woman had rented an apartment to a Jordanian police officer
forced the officer at gunpoint to watch as they shot and killed her.
are so crowded that only suspects who were carrying
rifles or machine guns are held without bail. There are so few courts
operation that many are freed because there is no judge to conduct a
abound. Under a UN decree, clerical staff get $30 a day for
hazardous duty, but police officers do not. The UN pays judges and other
important cogs in the justice system about $200 a month, about a quarter
what it pays its drivers and interpreters, perpetuating the shortage
in the face of a paralyzing backlog of cases.
Tom Koenigs, the
UN's chief of administration, agreed in an interview that
the discrepancy between the pay of judges and interpreters is fodder
critics who say the United Nations is a bureaucracy blind to common
''There is a certain
imbalance. I regret that,'' he said.
But Koenigs said
the pay scale for interpreters and drivers is set in New
York, while judges and other civil servants are paid a wage that has
sustained locally for the long term.
''This is temporary
work for the drivers and interpreters,'' he said.
The police scoff
at that explanation, saying that paying judges such low
wages is an invitation to corruption and sends the message that criminal
justice is not a priority. They said the United Nations has not provided
tools to do proper criminal investigations, such as laboratories to
fingerprint, and ballistics tests.
Gortano, the detective,
has resorted to sending evidence to colleagues in
Austria for analysis.
While agreeing that
there is too much crime, Koenigs insisted it is not as bad
as most other postwar societies. He said the United Nations has done
good job at stabilizing Kosovo.
''Every murder is
one too much, but you can't say this mission has failed
because there is a murder every night,'' he said.
Many police officers,
about 500 of whom are Americans, have been enticed
here by the chance to make $100,000 a year tax-free. But more than 100
officers, half of them American, have given up and gone home, frustrated
the lack of legal, institutional, and forensic support.
the Frenchman who heads the UN operation in Kosovo,
said only about half of the promised police have arrived. Some countries,
including France and Belgium, have failed to keep their promises, while
Americans, British, and Germans have sent more than they orginally
General Klaus Reinhardt,
the German who commands nearly 40,000
peacekeeping troops, said the shortage of police has forced him to deploy
soldiers to do jobs that should be done by police officers.
But those who are
here already say it doesn't matter how many police are
here if the criminal justice system remains toothless. Dmitry Kaportsev,
Russian officer, said the real shortage is in specially trained units
tackle problems such as riot control.
When 60 officers
from the Royal Ulster Constabulary, Northern Ireland's
police force, were recently dispatched here, they volunteered to go
Mitrovica, the divided northern city that is a constant flash point.
international contingent, the Northern Ireland officers have the most
and practical experience in dealing with divided, violent communities.
''The UN agreed
to let four of us work in Mitrovica, but they said it would
look racist if they sent all of us up there,'' said one RUC officer,
the condition of anonymity.
It is little wonder
that gangsters and assorted ne'er-do-wells have flocked to
Police have been
instructed by the United Nations to focus on keeping
people from killing each other. In the meantime, racketeering is flourishing.
Some police said that because the United Nations needs the supposedly
disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army to make any long-term settlement
work, it is willing to overlook the many former rebels who are now extorting
payoffs from cafes and restaurants.
Larry Guyton, who
took a year's leave of absence from his job as a deputy
sheriff in North Carolina, said targeting organized crime has taken
seat to preventing mass killings.
''It's a question
of manpower,'' he said. ''We're trying to start a police
department from scratch.''
UN police are supposed to hand off their responsibilities to a
locally recruited department. So far, about 340 locals have been trained,
the goal is to have 4,500 trained by December 2001. But many international
police believe that goal is ambitious.
''Some of these
guys may be criminals, but there's no way to do background
checks,'' said Guyton.
homicides in Baltimore for eight years, and was the
inspiration for the character of Detective Bayliss on the TV drama
''Homicide,'' before retiring to come here. He said the saddest case
come across here reminded him of how many damaged lives there are in
''There was a guy
who left his wife and seven kids here to go work in
Germany,'' he said. ''While he was away, his 15-year-old son stepped
land mine and blew off his arm and leg. The husband came home and
blamed his wife for not keeping an eye on the kid, an argument ensued,
he ended up strangling and killing her.''
The veteran homicide
cop looked out the window.
''This war has
done a number on people,'' he said, ''and we haven't seen the
half of it yet.''
lawyers seek Kosovo Albanian doctor's release
By Philippa Fletcher
21 (Reuters) - Serb lawyers have appealed for the release of a Kosovo
Albanian humanitarian doctor, poet and activist jailed for terrorism,
saying there was no evidence to justify her 12 year sentence.
At a protest meeting
held in a studio theatre in Belgrade on the anniversary
of her arrest during last year's NATO air strikes, four lawyers called
their colleagues in the Supreme Court to free Flora Brovina when they
her appeal on May 16.
She was accused
of associating with and helping the separatist Kosovo
Albanian guerrillas who stepped up their fight against Serb security
during the bombing. Brovina denied the charges, saying her work was
"She's a victim
of a stereotype, which is unfortunately widespread in
Serbia, that the Albanians are a lesser race and all guilty for anything
that happens," said Biljana Kovacevic-Vuco, head of the Yugoslav
director of the Belgrade Centre for Human Rights, said
the detention of a peace activist like Brovina was bad for Kosovo's
who have suffered revenge attacks since NATO replaced Serb forces last
"She said that
if she was free she would go to Kosovo and appeal to all
Albanian intellectuals to raise their voices against violence. I believe
would do that," he said.
Former Serbian President
Ivan Stambolic, who was a mentor to Slobodan
Milosevic before being ousted by him, was at the Thursday evening meeting,
but in all there were only a few dozen people in the audience.
The organisers were
disappointed by the low turnout, but said it was not
surprising because the fact she was Albanian made it difficult to inspire
sympathy for her in Serbia.
"We have to
show that she's a victim of an unjust system, as any one of us
could be a victim today or tomorrow," Kovacevic-Vuco said.
who is Macedonian, has been unable to visit her since he
was banned from Yugoslavia for not having an exit stamp after he left
country via Kosovo, where NATO has taken over the border post previously
controlled by Belgrade.
Her lawyer was badly
beaten in his Belgrade apartment a month ago by unknown attackers and
is still seriously ill.
His colleagues believe
the attack was organised by middlemen angered by his attempts to stop
Kosovo Albanians paying them huge bribes in the fear that, without them,
their relatives would never get out of jail.
Some 2,000 Kosovo
Albanians remained in jail in Serbia after last year's
NATO air strikes, many of them picked up at random during the bombing.
Some 750 have since been released and human rights lawyers hope more
may be freed in an amnesty next week.
Albanians Urge Violence Halt
By Memli Krasniqi
Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, April 19, 2000; 1:18 p.m. EDT
-- In an unusual act of solidarity, Kosovo's Serb
and ethnic Albanian leaders on Wednesday called for an end to the almost
daily killings that have plagued the province, urging followers to renounce
violence and work for a better future.
of a joint statement were Hashim Thaci, the former
head of the now disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army and Ibrahim
Rugova, the best known ethnic Albanian moderate.
For Serb moderates,
Bishop Artemije and Father Sava Jancic signed,
along with Rada Trajkovic, who last week ended a months-long boycott
by Serbs of the U.N.-supervised interim Kosovo government.
The statement expressed
deep concern with "acts of violence that have
occurred in recent days."
"We join together
to condemn this violence in the strongest terms," it said.
"We call upon all people and communities of Kosovo to renounce
violence once and for all and to work together for a better future for
communities in Kosovo."
signing the statement included Bernard Kouchner,
Kosovo's chief U.N. representative and Javier Solana, the European
Union's top foreign affairs official, who is visiting Kosovo.
The joint declaration
was unusual, in a province rent by ethnic violence
and immense mistrust between the rival communities 10 months after the
end of a prolonged crackdown by Serb forces.
was halted in the wake of a 78-day NATO
bombing campaign that forced Serb forces to withdraw and allowed
NATO-led peacekeepers and U.N. administrators to enter.
But violence persists,
including ethnically motivated killings. Attacks on
Serbs by ethnic Albanians seeking revenge for last year's crackdown
prompted about half of the Serb population to flee the province, leaving
behind only about 100,000 Serbs.
opposing any form of cooperation with Kosovo's
Albanians continue to boycott the provisional government and did not
The joint statement
called for the creation of a "climate of tolerance" ahead
of municipal elections later this year - the first test of whether conditions
are ripe to go to the polls without disruption.
In a first step
toward those elections on Wednesday, Kosovo's people
filtered to centers where international officials registered them to
for Security and Cooperation in Europe will record
voter data throughout the province.
Voters taking part
in the elections, scheduled for the fall, will choose local
candidates, leaving the more difficult questions of who will ultimately
govern the province for later ballots.
19 (AFP) - More than 30 prominent figures from
the European Union and the United Nations as well as from both sides
of the ethnic divide in Kosovo on Wednesday signed a common
declaration against violence in the troubled Serbian province.
Despite positive developments in the province, including the
participation of Serbs in the joint admininstration of Kosovo, the
document denounced recent acts of violence.
"We join together to condemn this violence in the strongest
terms. We reiterate together -- leaders of the kosovo.netmunities
and representatives of the United Nations and the European Union --
that violence has no place in Kosovo, no place in democratic
politics," the statement said.
The joint statement called for "a climate of tolerance" in
province and the maintenance of a free press, so that free and fair
elections could eventually take place.
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, EU Commissioner for
External Relations Chris Patten, ethnic Albanian leaders Ibrahim
Rugova and Hashim Thaci, Serb leader Rada Trajkovic and Bernard
Kouchner, head of the UN mission in Kosovo, were among the 31
individuals who signed the statement.