INFORMATION SERVICE OF THE SERBIAN ORTHODOX DIOCESE OF RASKA AND PRIZREN KOSOVO AND METOHIJA
Gracanica Monastery, August 8, 2002
Yesterday (on August 7, 2002) at approximately 20:30 hours, officers of the Kosovo Police Service (KPS) detained the abbess of Gracanica Monastery, Mother Efrosinia, for questioning at the local police station under suspicion that cannabis is being grown and allegedly consumed on monastery grounds (sic). After more than an hour of questioning conducted by a German inspector on behalf of the UNMIK police, Mother Efrosinia was allowed to go home. Today's daily police bulletin notes that the police allegedly discovered a cannabis field of approximately 100 square meters on land "reportedly belonging to Gracanica Monastery". The police report cites an anonymous male, who allegedly stated that he was "cultivating cannabis in the said field"!!!
The Diocese of Raska and Prizren most energetically denounces this completely unfounded accusation and most strongly protests the mistreatment of Mother Efrosinia, who is over seventy years old. " This kind of behavior seriously compromises the international and the Kosovo police," stated Bishop Artemije, who was astonished by yesterday's development in Gracanica.
"I can state with full authority," said Mother Efrosinia, "that this is a misunderstanding. The sisters of the monastery once raised hemp on that part of the monastery land and it is still growing wild on the edge of a meadow frequently used for landing by UNMIK helicopters. Hemp is a plant of poor people once raised by everyone and used to make clothes. It can still be found in many Serb gardens today, usually as a weed," said Mother Efrosinia with a smile. In fact, several other Serb peasants were accused recently by police of allegedly growing cannabis as a drug.
We also learned from Gracanica Monastery that no one gave a statement about "cultivating cannabis in the field". This is a completely inaccurate claim in the police report. The best indicator of the unprofessional work of the UNMIK police is the fact that only today (on August 8) at approximately 11:00 hours, or 14 hours after the abbess was detained for questioning, did police experts take samples of the weeds growing in the monastery garden in order to determine what they were. Once again we have a demonstration of the rule in effect in Kosovo and Metohija: Serbs are guilty until proven innocent, not the other way around.
The Diocese of Raska and Prizren supports the work of the police in the fight against drug abuse but it is absolutely unacceptable that a eminent and elderly member of the clergy be exposed to humiliation in a police station on the basis of unfounded suspicions. This kind of behavior speaks best to the (lack of) culture of those who practice it. In addition, the entire campaign of destroying "cannabis" in Kosovo and Metohija has turned into a frenzied destruction of everything remotely resembling this plant and some peasants have already suffered damages to their crops. Many people are hearing that hemp can be used for illegal purposes for the first time since there are no clear legal provisions regarding the matter.
While, on the one hand, members of the Orthodox clergy are immediately detained for questioning in the police station despite the lack of relevant evidence, on the other members of the Albanian drug mafia are smuggling some of the dangerous drugs unhindered and in the city of Pristina they can be purchased on every street corner.
Despite the unpleasantness of the circumstances, in Gracanica they are attempting to see this latest "act of foolishness" on the part of the international police in a humorous light according to the old Serbian adage: The mountain shook, a mouse was born (i.e., they are making a mountain out of a molehill).
Gracanica, August 8 2002 23:00
The chief of Gracanica UNMIK police station Charls Weber confirmed to the local KIM Radio that the cannabis which was allegedly detected in the Gracanica Monastery garden was just wild growing hemp."It was clear after the conversation with the abbess. For the police this case is closed now", said Weber.
So far the police authorities have not made any formal apologize to the old Abbess for taking her to the police station and humiliating her in front of her community, neither did they give any explanation why the public police report contained inaccurate information.
Service of the Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Raska and Prizren