February 18, 2003
ERP KIM Newsletter 18-02-03b
ERP KIM Info-Service: SERB HOUSES IN BICHA
VILLAGE STONED - Villagers request return of KFOR check point or they
would leave the village
AFP: First war crimes trial of former ethnic Albanian rebels
opens in Kosovo
AP: NATO detains three ethnic Albanians on war crimes
REUTERS: NATO nabs war crimes suspects
BETA: Frequent shooting in north part of Kosovska Mitrovica
EPOKA E RE: AKSH Sent Petition to European Ministers'
SG: Human rights need to be improved in Kosovo: Coordinating
SERB HOUSES IN BICHA
ERP KIM info service subarticle
ERP KIM Info-Service
February 18, 2003
(photo: Bica (pr. Beecha, received first
Serb returnees in summer 2002)
inhabitants of Bica (pronounced as Beecha), a Serbian returnee village
near Klina, informed the Diocese of Raska and Prizren of the latest
stoning of their homes, which happened yesterday evening (Monday) around
Four days ago the Italian KFOR units deployed in protecting the village,
removed the check-point protecting the houses which are some 1.5 km from
the centre of the village. According to the statements of the villagers,
from then on, these six distant homes have been under constant attacks and
provocations by the local Albanians, coming in the night toward the
Serbian houses, throwing stones and thus breaking windows and roof tiles.
The local Serbs are obliged to fix new damages on their houses only
shortly after they have managed to reconstruct them with a lot of hard
work and painful efforts .
After yesterday's attack all the inhabitants from that part of the village
gathered in one of the houses, spending night under the surveillance of
the Italian soldiers who appeared on the spot immediately after the
Men, women and children from these homes do not feel safe any more and say
they will be compelled to take refuge once again if KFOR does not
restitutes the check-point. Bica people are generally very satisfied with
the presence of the soldiers of Italian KFOR who claim that the latest
orders to secure the village is to shift from the system of fixed
check-points to patrol system . But the villagers claim that it is not
enough, being very well shown in the last few attacks on the houses,
amoong which the last was the worst one. Bica people say that even the
Italian soldiers are often being stoned by the Albanians during their
night patrols in the village.
The Diocese of Raska and Prizren strongly appeals to KFOR command to
revise the possibility of re-establishing fixed check-points, at least
around villages and churces being under direct danger. Although the
process of removing fixed check-points in some areas of the Province was
not followed by rising of violence, the situation on the ground is not the
same all over the province, and accordingly, it is not possible to
implement the same standards in every situation. It is very clear that
returnee villages would be the first under the extremists' attacks, and
they must have adecquate protection, in order to encourage the others to
come back to their homes.
FIRST WAR CRIMES TRIAL OF
FORMER ETHNIC ALBANIAN REBELS OPENS IN KOSOVO
PRISTINA, Serbia-Montenegro, Feb 17 (AFP)
former ethnic Albanian rebel leader and three of his aides went on trial
for alleged war crimes in Kosovo's capital Pristina Monday amid heightened
The four, arrested last year by the UN police and NATO-led peacekeepers
(KFOR), are suspected of murder and torture of fellow Albanians during the
1998-99 Kosovo war.
"The trial has started, but the indictment is not expected to be read out
today," Andrea Angeli, spokesman for the UN mission in Kosovo, told AFP as
the trial opened behind closed doors.
The trial, chaired by a panel of international judges, is the first local
war crimes case against ethnic Albanians in the UN-administered Serbian
The four are charged with six counts of murder, eleven counts of unlawful
arrest and detention as well as eight counts of kidnapping and torture.
The victims were ethnic Albanians accused by the rebels of collaborating
with the Serb police during the conflict.
Among the four is Rrustem Mustafa, a former high-ranking officer in the
now-disbanded ethnic Albanian guerrilla force the Kosovo Liberation Army
Known by his nome de guerre as Remi, Mustafa was in the KLA when it
battled Belgrade forces during the 1998-99 war. He was regional KLA
commander for the northern Kosovo area of Podujevo.
After NATO troops moved into Kosovo, Mustafa joined the province's civil
emergency force, Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC), formed mainly from former
KLA members. He was the regional commander of the Gnjilane region.
But last April, he was suspended from the KPC after being placed on a US
blacklist of 22 ethnic Albanians believed "to pose a significant risk of
committing acts of violence... threatening the peace... or security in the
western Balkans regions."
Last year's arrests sparked a wave of unrest among ethnic Albanians, most
of whom regard the former rebels as heroes for fighting an independence
war from the former Yugoslavia.
Kosovo has been under United Nations and NATO control since the end of the
1998-99 war between ethnic Albanian rebels and Yugoslav forces under
former president Slobodan Milosevic.
NATO DETAINS TRHEE ETHNIC
ALBANIANS ON WAR CRIMES
February 17, 2003
by Fisnik Abrashi
(photo: Karla del Ponte - investigations
of war crimes in Kosovo continuing)
KORETICA, Serbia-Montenegro - Marking the first time the U.N. war crimes
tribunal has acted against ethnic Albanian suspects, NATO (news - web
sites)-led peacekeepers on Monday detained three former rebels wanted for
atrocities committed during the Kosovo war.
In a statement released hours after the operation, NATO said its
peacekeepers had detained three men indicted for crimes committed against
Serb and ethnic Albanian civilians in May and July 1998.
The three were commanders or guards serving with the rebel Kosovo
Liberation Army at the Llapushnik prison camp in Glogovac, in central
Kosovo, NATO said.
"During this period, they committed, or otherwise aided and abetted the
execution of, the crimes of imprisonment and cruel treatment of both Serb
and Albanian civilians," the statement said.
NATO also said the suspects - identified as Haradin Balaj, Isak Musliu and
Agim Murtezi - had been transferred to secure locations and that the
operations Monday had not resulted in any casualties.
Balaj, 46, was detained by NATO-led peacekeepers who broke into his house
at 3 a.m. (0200 GMT) in the central village of Gornja Koretica, some 20
kilometers (12 miles) west of the province's capital, Pristina, the
suspect's brother, Fatmir Balaj, told The Associated Press.
"Armed soldiers, some with face masks, broke into our house and burst into
the bedroom where Haradin was sleeping," the brother said.
"People in civilian clothes, accompanying soldiers, told us they were from
The Hague (news - web sites) Tribunal," he said, referring to the U.N.
court, which is based in The Hague, Netherlands.
Balaj's wife, Shefkije, said she asked the armed soldiers why they were
arresting her husband.
"They took pictures of him, whisked him away and then started searching
the house," she said. "I shouted and cried and asked them why was my
husband arrested by masked men in the middle of the night. They told me he
was wanted for war crimes."
The door of Balaj's house was smashed and several armored personnel
carriers and other military vehicles were still stationed in the yard
hours after the operation.
Balaj's seven children wept and said that masked men entered their room
and told them to remain silent.
Balaj was a low-ranking former fighter for the Kosovo Liberation Army, the
rebel group that fought Serb forces during their brutal repression of
ethnic Albanians in the 1998-1999 conflict. He joined a unit in central
Kosovo at the beginning of that war.
The U.N. war crimes tribunal has been harshly criticized by some Serb
officials for allegedly showing anti-Serb bias. No ethnic Albanians had so
far been arrested, and most of those who have been indicted for crimes in
the Balkan wars of the 1990s have been Serbs.
Kosovo, legally a part of Serbia-Montenegro - the loose union that
recently replaced Yugoslavia - has been administered by the United Nations
(news - web sites) and NATO since June 1999.
Those organizations began running the province following an alliance air
war that halted a crackdown by Serb forces on separatist ethnic Albanians.
An estimated 10,000 people were killed in the war, the majority of them
NATO's Secretary-General George Robertson said Monday's arrests serve "as
a warning" to all the remaining war crimes suspects indicted by the
international court. He called on the two top Serb war crimes suspects
still at large - Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic - to surrender.
"Let me be crystal clear to those with guilty consciences," Robertson
said. "You have only two choices: turn yourself in with dignity or justice
will be brought to you. The net is closing."
NATO NABS WAR CRIMES
Mon February 17, 2003 04:24 PM ET
By Shaban Buza
(photo: Kosovo Liberation Army rebels suspected of war crimes)
Serbia and Montenegro (Reuters) - NATO-led troops have detained three
ex-Kosovo Albanian guerrillas accused by the U.N. tribunal in The Hague of
war crimes against both Serb and Albanian civilians.
It was the first time ex-members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) were
held on charges filed by the U.N. war crimes court, which has been
criticised by Belgrade for indicting only Serbs for atrocities during the
1998-99 Kosovo conflict.
"Today's action represents a significant new step in NATO's drive to
detain war crime indictees throughout the region," Secretary General
George Robertson said in a statement on Monday.
The three former members of the guerrilla force that battled Slobodan
Milosevic's Serbian forces are accused of war crimes while they were
commanders and guards at a prison camp in central Kosovo in mid-1998, NATO
"During this period, they committed, or otherwise aided and abetted the
execution of, the crimes of imprisonment and cruel treatment of both Serb
and Albanian civilians," it said.
It named the suspects as Haradin Bala, Isak Musliu and Agim Murtezi. None
of them were part of the senior KLA leadership.
"This should...send a message that we will act against any person indicted
for war crimes, regardless of their ethnicity," Robertson said.
The three will be moved to The Hague, NATO said.
In the village of Gornja Koretica, Shefkije Balaj said peacekeepers came
for her 45-year-old husband as the family of two adults and seven children
were sleeping early on Monday.
"Masked soldiers broke the window and entered our bedroom. They took
Haradin without saying anything," she said, spelling the family name
differently from NATO's statement.
"He hasn't done anything wrong," she said, adding the children were told
to leave their room while it was being searched. "My husband was a KLA
soldier and fought for the freedom of his people. He was only an ordinary
Chief U.N. war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte said last year that three
former guerrillas were under investigation.
Western officials in Kosovo insist they will crack down on former rebels
guilty of crimes, despite the risk of protest.
The arrest reports coincided with the start on Monday of a war crimes
trial in Pristina against four other KLA members.
An international prosecutor in Kosovo had charged well-known ex-commander
"Remi" and the others with torturing fellow ethnic Albanians suspected of
collaborating with Serb officials in the 1998-99 conflict. Three are also
accused of murdering civilians.
Many Kosovans regard former guerrillas as heroes in a war of liberation
against harsh Serb rule when Milosevic was in power in Belgrade. Kosovo
came under U.N.-led rule in mid-1999 after 11 weeks of NATO bombing drove
out his forces.
The U.N. court last September wrapped up the Kosovo chapter of the case
against the former Yugoslav president, blamed by prosecutors for
atrocities committed by Serb military and police as they battled Albanian
FREQUENT SHOOTING IN
NORTH PART OF KOSOVSKA MITROVICA MUNICIPALITY
Kosovska Mitrovica, February 17, 2003
(photo: Is ANA acitve in Kosovo?)
the area of the village of Vidomiric in the north part of Kosovska
Mitrovica municipality, inhabited exclusively by Albanians, during the
last few days there has been frequent shooting from firearms, which is
causing unrest among residents of nearby villages in the Zvecan area.
Chairman of the Serb National Council (SNC) of Northern Kosovo and
Metohija Milan Ivanovic told reporters today that UNMIK and KFOR have been
advised and that two days ago members of international forces discovered a
group of Albanians with rifles in this area who said they were going to
hunting for fowl.
Their weapons were confiscated and during this KFOR mission a clash
occurred between local Albanians and Danish troops. According to
Ivanovic's sources, at least two soldiers were injured.
The SNC chairman believes that "this shooting is target practice" and that
it is "preparation for the hot spring being forecast for Kosovo".
According to Vucitrn coordinator Misko Popovic in the area of Priluzje,
a nearby Serb village, one can also see men in black uniforms. Popovic
claims they wear the emblems of the Albanian National Army (ANA) on their
Popovic stated that they are restoring shelters, bunkers and trenches
and bringing in food and medical supplies, as well as that members of
international peacekeeping forces have been advised and that their
officers, according to the Vucitrn coordinator, are visiting the area,
surveying and filming the terrain.
AKSH SENT PETITION TO
EUROPEAN MINISTERS COUNCIL
Albanian nation asks for reunification of Albanian ethnic lands
Epoka e Re
February 17, 2003
(photo: So called reunification of
Albanian ethnic lands whould request changing of borders of
Serbia-Montenegro, Macedonia and Greece)
Front for Albanian National Union (FBKSH) organized a protest in Brussels.
A lot of Albanians with flags and slogans were gathered at “Shuman” square
in order to request the unification of Albanian lands. Many Albanians from
Germany, Nederland and France participated in the protest.
Talking in front of the protestors, Idajet Beqiri said that the only
option for the solution of the Albanian problem is reunification of ethnic
lands. “Albanians are joining the FBKSH massively because this movement
has decided to work, fight and sacrifice for a final solution of Albanian
problems in order to unite all Albanians and their ethnic lands in one
Albanian democratic and pro-western country in the Balkans. That would be
the only accepted solution that could guarantee peace, stability and
prosperity in the Balkan Peninsula,” said Beqiri.
Protesters were cheering, “AKSH,” “One nation, one country,” “Çameria
is Albanian land!” “We want the Albanian unified country,” etc.
(remark: Cameria is today's North Greece)
The President of the Patriotic Association, “Çameria,” Festim Lulaj said,
“Çameria is a national bad wound. Çameria is part of ethnic Albania. We,
sons of Çameria, appeal to European Union to heal our bad wound, this
wound of more than 300,000 Cams is caused by Greece, which is a member of
the European Union and NATO.
In the end, a delegation, led by Idaet Beqiri, Festim Lulaj, Shaban
Shkupi, Bajram Selmani and Kadri Veselaj, was accepted in offices of
European Ministers’ Council. In that case they delivered petition on
behalf of FBKSH.
FBKSH and Patriotic Association “Çameria” were the organizers of this
HUMAN RIGHTS NEED TO BE
IMPROVED IN KOSOVO - COORDINATING CENTER
Belgrade, Feb 17, 2003
(photo: Vladimir Bozovic - No real
progress in the Balkans if human rights are not improved in Kosovo and
meeting with several US congressmen and senators on Monday, head of the
Coordinating Centre for Kosovo-Metohija's justice department Vladimir
Bozovic said that they agreed there can be no real progress in the Balkans
if human rights are not improved in Kosovo-Metohija.
After his 10-day visit to the United States, Bozovic said that the Kosovo
issue needs to be looked at from the point of view of the region, which
was also agreed by other parties on a visit to the US Congress. "The
delegation from Albania, representatives of Congress and our [Serbia's]
delegation all supported the same thing - respect for UN Security Council
Resolution 1244," Bozovic said.
He said that the destruction of cultural heritage sites in Kosovo-Metohija
was also discussed at the talks with congressmen.
PRESS REVIEW - February 18, 2003
KOSOVO AND METOHIJA IN
Today's press revies (POLITIKA and BORBA)
Today several Yugoslav
dailies publish comments and interviews on the occasion of Serbian Prime
Minister Zoran Djindjic’s initiative to resolve the issue of the final
status of Kosovo-Metohija. More in the Press Review.
The knot of Kosmet, as history has shown, cannot be cut
by any kind of unilateral effort. It’s resolving is possible only through
patient and unremitting effort,
today’s daily POLITIKA, writes. The daily adds that the prime minister’s
suggestion endorses this, for Djindjic referred to the international
community with a proposal to start a political dialogue on the resolving
of the status of this Serbian province. The response from Kosmet arrived
in the form of a declaration of independence. In turn, the MPs of leading
Albanian parties in the Kosovan parliament tried to have this document
adopted in a misleading manner. However, they faced a unified condemnation
on the part of Europe and the US, and had to do with its declarative
adopting, without any voting, in order to avoid a direct conflict with the
international community. Thus this document has been suspended for a
while, in order to open the issue of independence again, in a more
Official US representatives have warned that such attempts may lead to a
destabilizing of the Balkans and that the knot of Kosmet can be resolved
only with UN Resolution 1244, which means only through a political
dialogue of all interested parties. The prerequisite of any kind of talks
on the further destiny of this Serbian province, is without doubt the
creating of democratic institutions, as well as the building of a
multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-confessional society, as a basis
for any additional talks on the future status, POLITIKA concludes.
Under the heading, WE CANNOT WAIT FOREVER, today’s
BORBA published the interview with political analyst Zoran Lutovac on the
resolving of the final status of Kosovo-Metohija. He is of the opinion
that the policy of UNMIK head Michael Steiner is a policy according to
which standards should first be fulfilled, and then the status of the
province resolved, or in other words, a policy of delaying to confront the
problem, with the aim to marginalize the role of Belgrade and to advance
the status of Kosmet to an independent option.
The recurring activities of guerilla groups in Kosovo-Metohija and the
south of Serbia are not unexpected, for whenever the issue of the status
of Kosovo is opened, there are armed provocations on the part of the
extremists, which is in accordance with the general strategy of the
Albanians, and in the aim of the independence of Kosovo, analyst Lutovac
points out. The same strategy means that the south of Serbia is to be
transformed into some kind of territorial and ethnic autonomy, later to be
joined to an independent Kosovo. On the occasion of the Serbian prime
minister’s proposal to urgently resolve the final status of Kosmet,
Lutovac points out that the Serbian authorities have opened this issue, in
order to secure an fitting role in its resolving. Without the protection
of Serbian interests in the province, the solution could not be long-term,
but would become a source of constant conflicts. Only the solution which
would comply with the interests of all the national communities can lead
to stability, Lutovac considers, and is quoted by today’s BORBA.
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