June 5, 2003

ERP KIM Newsletter 05-O6-03

CONTENTS:

AFP: THREE SERBS MURDERED IN KOSOVO: UN

BETA: COVIC TALKS WITH RELATIVES OF MURDERED STOLIC FAMILY

BETA: BOZOVIC - MURDER BRINGS BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS INTO QUESTION

B92: SERB FAMILY MURDERED IN KOSOVO

FONET: BELGRADE DEMANDS ACTION ON SERB MURDER IN KOSOVO - SERBS PROTEST TO COVIC

SERBIAN PRIME MINISTER CALLS FOR RESPONSIBILITY OF KOSOVO'S INTERIM INSTITUTIONS

REUTERS: THREE SERBS DIE IN WORST KOSOVO ATTACK SINCE 2001

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THREE SERBS MURDERED IN KOSOVO: UN
"This is a heinous act, a perfidious crime which was directed against multi-ethnicity in Kosovo," Steiner told the gathering, which booed him.

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Source: Agence France-Presse (AFP)
Date: 4 Jun 2003


OBILIC, Serbia-Montenegro, June 4 (AFP) - An elderly Serb couple and their son were axed to death and their house was set on fire Wednesday in one of the worst incidents of violence in Kosovo in recent months, a United Nations official said.

Slobodan Stolic, 80, his wife Radmila, 78, and their son Ljubinko, 53, were murdered in their house at Obilic, some 15 kilometers (nine miles) northwest of the Kosovo capital Pristina around 2:30 am (0030 GMT), UN spokesman Andrea Angeli said.

The house was then set alight by the unknown attackers, he said.

The murders came hours before the European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, was due to arrive in the southern Serbian province in an apparent bid to win support for a meeting of Serb and Albanian leaders at an upcoming EU summit in Greece this month.

The violence is likely to further fuel the deep animosity between the two communities and complicate UN efforts to find political common ground between the Albanian government in Kosovo and the Serbian authorities in Belgrade.

UN mission chief Michael Steiner and Kosovo's ethnic Albanian prime minister, Bajram Rexhepi, rushed to the town after news of the attack reached Pristina. They were jeered by a crowd of angry Serbs.

"This is a heinous act, a perfidious crime which was directed against multi-ethnicity in Kosovo," Steiner told the gathering, which booed him.

"We need justice here and to find those who are responsible," he added, promising to set up a special UN police task force to investigate the murders.

Rexhepi condemned the slaughter as a "base and barbaric act." Beta news agency reported that Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Nebojsa Covic was also on his way here Wednesday.

Kosovo has been under UN control since the end of a NATO bombing campaign in June 1999 which forced Belgrade forces to withdraw from the southern Serbian province and end a brutal crackdown on the Albanian majority.

Hundreds of Serbs and non-Albanians have been killed or have gone missing since the end of the war, while more than 200,000 Serbs have fled the province fearing reprisals from Albanian extremists.

Serbs accuse the UN of bias toward the Albanians and of failing to provide security for the return of the refugees.

Novica Stolic, a cousin of the slain family, said the murders highlighted the ineffectiveness of UN and NATO security for the targeted minority.

"There were threats last night made against the family and pressure from Albanians for the family to leave Obilic," Stolic said.

"Earlier Molotov cocktails were thrown at the house and their car was stolen. It just goes to show the lack of security."

But Angeli said it was too early to say whether the murder was motivated by ethnic hatred.

"It's a murder and we are still investigating this horrendous crime," he said, adding that "a large crowd of Serbs has gathered in Obilic and they are very nervous."

Nenad Radosavljevic, a Serbian advisor to Steiner for minority and refugee issues, told B92 radio in Belgrade that there could be no doubt that the murders were a hate crime.

He said the UN, NATO and Albanian authorities in Kosovo must bear the responsibility.

"I will demand the suspension of all local authorities in Kosovo and the introduction of an absolute protectorate. I will also ask for the resignation of Kosovo Prime Minister Bajram Rexhepi," he said.

The mayor of Obilic, local police leaders and the commanders of NATO peacekeepers in central Kosovo should also resign, he said.

"Somebody has to bear responsibility for this," Radosavljevic said.

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COVIC TALKS WITH RELATIVES OF MURDERED STOLIC FAMILY
Obilic residents complained of exceptionally poor security conditions and told Covic of the horrors they endured during the last four years, since the arrival of the international missions in Kosovo.

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Beta News Agency, Belgrade
June 4, 2003

Covic talks with relatives of murdered Stolic family

OBILIC, 4 June 2003 - Serbian deputy premier and head of the Coordinating Center for Kosovo and Metohija Nebojsa Covic arrived early this afternoon in Obilic to talk with close relatives of the three murdered members of the Stolic family.

Covic insisted on speaking with the relatives of the Stolices, whose bodies were found this morning in their burned house, without the presence of media.

Prior to this, he spoke with Serbs who gathered in front of the Stolic house to protest the triple murder.

Obilic residents complained of exceptionally poor security conditions and told Covic of the horrors they endured during the last four years, since the arrival of the international missions in Kosovo.

The gathered Serbs also fiercely criticized the government in Belgrade and expressed their dissatisfaction with its treatment of Kosovo.

Locals also spoke with Covic regarding poor economic conditions and informed him that some of the elderly had not received their pensions for some time nor any other form of assistance. Covic told them to make a list and submit it to his office by 10:00 hours tomorrow.

Arriving with Covic in Obilic were Return Coalition (Povratak) deputies in the Kosovo parliament and members of the Coordinating Center Oliver Ivanovic, Gojko Savic and pathologist Dr. Slavisa Dobricanin, who is also the head of the Bureau for Exhumations and Identification.

The three members of the Stolic family in Obilic, an elderly couple and their middle aged son, were murdered on Wednesday morning in their house in Obilic. Immediately afterward the house was set on fire. It is suspected that the reason for this was to create the impression that the Stolices died in the fire.

The exterior of the house is not very damaged; however, the interior is completely burned. There was no electricity at the time the fire broke out and locals therefore exclude the possibility that the fire occurred as a result of a short circuit or bad wiring.

Relatives say that they saw knife wounds on the body of 50 year-old Ljubinko Stolic in the area of the heart; a broken arm and fracture of the right temple.

Slobodan and Radmila Stolic, both about 80 years old, were killed with blunt objects by blows to the nape of the neck, said the relatives, who were allowed to enter the house and see the bodies of the murdered persons but only after gather Serbs clashed with members of the Kosovo Police Service.

KPS officers previously had blocked off the Stolic yard and refused to allow the relatives to enter the house.

After the intervention of UNMIK police, the three closest relatives of the deceased were allowed to see the bodies.

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BOZOVIC: MURDER BRINGS BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS INTO QUESTION
The treacherous and ethnically motivated multiple murder of the Stolics brings the realization of basic human rights of non-Albanians in Kosovo and Metohija into question: the right to freedom of life, security and freedom of movement, which have been tragically lacking since the deployment of international civil and military missions in the region.

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Beta News Agency, Belgrade
June 4, 2003


BELGRADE, 4 June 2003 - Vladimir Bozovic, the head of the Judicial and Human Rights Department of the Coordinating Center for Kosovo and Metohija, most strongly condemned the vile murder of the Stolic family today.

In his statement Bozovic said that the treacherous and ethnically motivated multiple murder of the Stolics brings the realization of basic human rights of non-Albanians in Kosovo and Metohija into question: the right to freedom of life, security and freedom of movement, which have been tragically lacking since the deployment of international civil and military missions in the region.

The return of expelled and displaced persons is being discouraged by the extremist behavior of the dominant ethnic group in Kosovo and the symbolic reactions of international factors [to the perpetration of violence], it is said in the statement.

The statement goes on to express the hope that responsible UNMIK police and judicial officials, who much react energetically and without delay, will find the perpetrators of this serious and odious crime and bring them to justice.

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SERB FAMILY MURDERED IN KOSOVO
"The murder of the Stolic family confirms the bitter truth that Serb status in Kosovo remains unchanged for four years, and that the drop in the number of crimes committed is only a consequence of the Serbs' even greater isolation, who stick to their enclaves and protected zones".

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B92, Belgrade
June 04, 2003


OBILIC -- Wednesday – a Kosovo-Serb family was murdered in their Obilic home near Pristina last night, prompting an extreme reaction from UNMIK’s chief advisor for minorities and returnees.

Fire fighters discovered the bodies of Slobodan Stolic, his wife Radmila and son Ljubinko after managing to extinguish a fire in the modest house.

It has been established that the three were already dead before the fire was set and the family car stolen. An investigation is now underway.

UNMIK Chief Michael Steiner has also arrived on the scene, accompanied by heavily armed police and KFOR troops.

Reacting to news of the murders, UNMIK advisor for minorities and returnees, Nenad Radosavljevic said that he would request the complete suspension of all powers of temporary institutions and the re-introduction of a full protectorate status for Kosovo.

Speaking to B92 and condemning the murders in the strongest possible terms, Radosavljevic continued: "I will also ask for Kosovo First Minister Bajram Rexhepi to resign".

He said: "I cannot bring back the lost lives, but I will insist on the dismissal and responsibility of the mayor, the municipal administrator and the Obilic chief of police and KFOR commander for central Kosovo".

Insisting that "someone has to answer for this", Radosavljevic explained: "I have been warning for days of the strong resistance and ties between the Albanian politicians and Albanians who have appropriated the assets of displaced people, but everyone has turned a deaf ear to this".

A Serb National Council of Kosovo delegation has also arrived in the town to learn details of the crime. Lead by Randjel Nojkic, they insisted that local Serbs are understandably very upset and worried by this latest atrocity.

Issuing a joint statement, the Serb National Council of Kosovo and the Serbian Orthodox Church’s Raska-Prizren diocese said:

"This heinous murder of innocent civilians is just one more in a series of crimes that the Albanian extremists and terrorists use to expel the remaining Serbs in Kosovo. 

"There are around twenty Serb families left in Obilic. They have been exposed for months to systematic terror, grenade and arson attacks."

The statement adds: "The murder of the Stolic family confirms the bitter truth that Serb status in Kosovo remains unchanged for four years, and that the drop in the number of crimes committed is only a consequence of the Serbs' even greater isolation, who stick to their enclaves and protected zones".

The Serbian Government has since announced that PM Zoran Zivkovic has condemned the murder and requested that the responsiblity of temporary self-government be established in Kosovo.

The government statement reads: "The monstrous torture, plundering and burning of three people just because they continued to live in their house is a great loss and a threat to all Serbs and all other citizens of Kosovo that the extremists have pointed their finger at".

The PM is to propose to the appropraite Serbian and state union bodies that responsible, autonimous, temporary institutions be established in the southern province, insisting that the number of Serbs killed and incidents of violence and destruction are increasing with the transfer of powers to temporary Albanian-run institutions.

The daming statement adds: "The establishing of responsibility is also necessary because of the fact that, despite all the more frequent grave crimes and the increasing number of people killed, the UN Secretary General's special representative continues to present his disastrous results as successful, and plays at forming an independent state in Kosovo by transferring the powers".


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BELGRADE DEMANDS ACTION ON SERB MURDER IN KOSOVO
Belgrade’s Kosovo Coordination Centre today demanded an urgent response from UN police and judicial organs to the murder of a Serb family by Albanian extremists yesterday.

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FoNet, Belgrade
June 4, 2003


BELGRADE -- Wednesday – Belgrade’s Kosovo Coordination Centre today demanded an urgent response from UN police and judicial organs to the murder of a Serb family by Albanian extremists yesterday.

The Centre condemned the slaying as "disgusting", saying that it had reopened the issue of the non-Albanian population’s basic human rights.

It also warned that the half-hearted reaction of international peacekeepers was not conducive to the return of refugees and displaced people.


Serbs protest to Covic


OBILIC -- Wednesday – The head of Belgrade’s Kosovo Coordination Centre, Nebojsa Covic, arrived in Obilic today to a storm of protest from local Serbs over security conditions in the province.

He had earlier spoken to Serbs gathered outside the house of the Stolic family, three members of which were discovered murdered after a fire destroyed their house.

The Serbs told Covic that they had been living in horror since the arrival of international peacekeepers in the province.

They also protested strongly about the attitude of the Serbian government to Kosovo.

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SERBIAN PRIME MINISTER CALLS FOR RESPONSIBILITY OF KOSOVO'S INTERIM INSTITUTIONS
Zivkovic will propose to all Serbian and state union institutions in charge to call for the responsibility of Kosovo's interim institutions as well as those in charge in the international administration, as the shifting of competencies to the interim institutions is being followed by a rise in the number of Serbs killed, increased violence and destruction, and attempts to create an independent state in Kosovo-Metohija.

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http://www.serbia.sr.gov.yu/news/2003-06/04/329498.html

SERBIAN GOVERNMENT
June 04, 2003

Belgrade, June 4, 2003 - Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic condemned on Wednesday the crime committed against the Stolic family from Obilic and extended condolences to their relatives and friends as well as the Serb community in Kosovo-Metohija.

On Wednesday morning, Slobodan, Radmila, and Ljubinko Stolic were killed in their home in Obilic. The perpetrators then set fire to the house to destroy the traces of the crime.

Zivkovic will propose to all Serbian and state union institutions in charge to call for the responsibility of Kosovo's interim institutions as well as those in charge in the international administration, as the shifting of competencies to the interim institutions is being followed by a rise in the number of Serbs killed, increased violence and destruction, and attempts to create an independent state in Kosovo-Metohija, reads a statement.

The frequency of such crimes is endangering the peace in the province as well as the stability of the entire region, the Prime Minister said in the statement, adding that it is necessary to change the approach to the Kosovo problem and assign the jurisdiction over that process to serious international officials.

There are some 20 Serb families in Obilic, with limited freedom of movement.


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THREE SERBS DIE IN WORST KOSOVO ATTACK SINCE 2001

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REUTERS
Wed June 4, 2003 07:37 AM ET
By Shaban Buza

OBILIC, Serbia and Montenegro (Reuters) - A family of three Serbs were murdered in a Kosovo town overnight in the worst single attack against the small Serb minority in over two years, United Nations police said Wednesday.

The province's U.N. administrator said the killings were clearly aimed at stopping reconciliation between Serbs and the ethnic Albanian majority.

"This is a triple murder, a deliberate killing," U.N. police spokesman Derek Chappell told Reuters. It was the heaviest toll in ethnic violence since 11 Serbs were killed in a bomb attack on a bus in February 2001.

The bodies of an elderly man, his wife and son were found after firemen were called out in the middle of the night to a blaze in the town of Obilic, not far from the capital, Pristina.

"The people were attacked as they were lying in bed in the middle of the night. These people died as a result of a brutal beating, not a fire," Chappell said.

U.N. police sources added that the victims bore extensive injuries inflicted by a sharp object.

U.N. administrator for Kosovo Michael Steiner, visiting the scene, called the attack a "heinous act and perfidious crime which was directed against multi-ethnicity in Kosovo."

Kosovo has been an international protectorate since NATO bombing drove out Serb forces in 1999 to end Serbian repression of Albanians. Most Serbs fled the province fearing reprisals and there has been sporadic violence against those who remain.

Attacks were commonplace in the aftermath of the 1999 war but had become much rarer as the U.N., a NATO-led peace force and local leaders combined to demand an end to the violence. "This is a barbarous act and we strongly demand that those who committed it be brought to justice as soon as possible," Kosovo's Albanian Prime Minister Bajram Rexhepi said.

"Just at the moment when we were preparing for the return of 20 Serbian families to Obilic, a cruel act has taken place before this very important day for Kosovo."

Steiner and Rexhepi tried to enter the partly destroyed house but were prevented by an angry crowd of Serbs, including relatives of the victims.

Chappell said police and firemen had found the bodies of the husband, 80, the wife, 78, and their son, 53. "They are all Kosovo Serbs," he said.

Rada Trajkovic of the Kosovo Serb Return Coalition identified them as Slobodan and Radmila Stolic and their son Ljubinko. Local residents said Albanians in Obilic had demanded several times that the family sell their house.


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ERP KIM Info-Service is the official Information Service of the Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Raska and Prizren and works with the blessing of His Grace Bishop Artemije.
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