June 20, 2003

ERP KIM Newsletter 20-06-03









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KOSOVO POLJE, 20. 06. 2003.
Serb medical personnel in front of Kosovo Polje hospital (Nikola Besevic, B92)



JUNE 19, 2003

Twenty medical employees of the Kosovo Polje Health Center were injured during an attempt by UNMIK and Kosovo police to evict the patients and Serb medical staff from the building of the former Russian hospital in the village of Bresje. UNMIK policemen ordered the Serb patients and medical staff to leave the hospital, Health Center director Dr. Zorica Jovanic told KIM Radio. "When we refused to follow their order, they threw tear gas in front of the hospital building and took out their batons, after which real chaos ensued.

After the withdrawal of Russian troops UNMIK and the Kosovo Police Services demanded that I turn over the keys of the Russian military hospital," said Dr. Jovanic. The building used until recently by Russian troops is owned by the Serbian Institute for Blood Transfusion, formerly located in Pristina. In addition to the team of Russian physicians and technologists, the dispensary and specialist section of the Russian military hospital employed a Serb team of physicians from the Kosovo Polje Health Center.

Dr. Jovanic says that prior to leaving the building the Russian troops advised that according to the provisions of the Kumanovo Agreement, they were supposed to give the keys to UNMIK. "The people in Steiner's administration remembered the Kumanovo Agreement applies in the case of the Russian military hospital even though it is obvious it is not being implemented anywhere else in the Province," said Dr. Jovanic. After the incident, an agreement was reached at a meeting with the regional police administration in Pristina to allow the Serb medical staff to continue to use the former Russian hospital.




KIM Radio (Transcript of the Radio report)
19 June 2003

Almost 20 people were injured today when UNMIK police used tear gas in an attempt to force patients and Serb physicians to leave the former Russian military hospital in Kosovo Polje.

Kosovo Polje Health Center director Dr. Zorica Jovanic said that UNMIK police entered the lobby at about 14,00 hours and ordered the Serb patients and medical workers to leave the building.

"When we refused to follow their order, they simply applied force. They threw tear gas in front of the hospital building and pulled out their batons. There were 50 of them and 20 of us. All chaos broke loose."

When asked if UNMIK police was aware there were in-house patients in the hospital, Dr. Jovanic confirmed it. The physician on duty, Dr. Nebojsa Telekovic, elaborated:

"I said if the patients cannot receive here, can you give us a written guarantee that they will transferred to the Pristina Health Center, that they will be safe and that they will receive the proper medical attention?

"The UNMIK officer replied that he could not, that I had to ask for those guarantees from a higher authority. If that's the case, I said, then we cannot allow our patients to be practically tossed out into the street. That's when they applied force."

The Kosovo Polje Health Center, like the former Russian hospital, is open to all patients, unlike Kosovo health institutions that have been usurped by Albanian physicians, says Dr. Pavisa Stankovic. She claims that many Albanian patients have received medical assistance there and that the show of force by UNMIK has frightened the remaining Serbs in Kosovo Polje and the region that come to the institutions for necessary assistance.

"Are we supposed to evict our patients because someone says it isn't our building? The building belongs to us. We did not usurp it from anyone. It exists for the purpose of treating all those who need help, regardless of their race, religious, ethnic or any other affiliation. We have records; we do not reject Albanian patients."

The building in question, which until recently housed the Russian medical team, is owned by the Serbian Institute for Blood Transfusion, formerly based in Pristina. In addition to Russian physicians and technicians, Serb physicians from Kosovo Polje Health Center worked in the dispensary and the specialist sections.

After the withdrawal of Russian troops, however, UNMIK decided to take over the former Russian hospital building and add it to the Kosovo health system, from which all Serb physicians had been ejected, said Dr. Jovanic.

"They came here to take over the building for UNMIK so it could be turned over to the Kosovo health system. We know nothing about that because we have been ejected from all Kosovo health institutions and this is the only institution here offering these people primary and secondary health care they cannot get in the Kosovo health system."

There were about 10 patients in the hospital who witnessed what happened in the lobby of the building.

"We saw everything through the window. We saw the police cars arrive, the batons. We almost jumped out of our beds ourselves. Who knows what will become of us. If this was some backwater one could understand these things happen but here it is simply a question of having no human rights. Especially the old people. If we have no doctors, then where can we go? It is almost better to be in our graves," said one elderly man.

After the clash the Serb physicians and medical technicians continued their work normally in the former Russian hospital building. The Russians left and took their equipment but our responsibility is to our patients who remain here, said Dr. Jovanic.


KOSOVO POLJE, 20. 06. 2003.
Serb doctors give medical treatment to a person injured in a police attack (Nikola Besevic, B92)



June 19, 2003

Kosovo Polje: Russians to be replaced by Serbs (19 June 2003)

Two days ago Return Coalition (Povratak) deputy and Pristina University dean Gojko Savic visited Russian KFOR troops at Slatina Airport and residents from Vrelo who work at the airport and who will be left jobless by the departure of Russian troops from Kosovo and Metohija. Mr. Savic then visited the Russian hospital in Kosovo Polje. "The departure of Russian troops from the hospital also means the departure of all the equipment, something the Albanians would like to take advantage of in order to take over the building. However, we have reached an agreement. The Serbs will remain in the building," Professor Savic told KIM Radio. He said that the Faculty of Medicine would soon purchase expensive equipment for surgical intervention and that the Serb experts would soon replace the Russians in Kosovo Polje. "No one will be able to move an internationally recognized university out of Kosovo Polje," believes Savic.

Momcilo Trajkovic: UNMIK far from results (19 June 2003)

Movement for Kosovo and Metohija leader Momcilo Trajkovic and UNMIK chief Michael Steiner met today in Pristina and agreed that without the return of the displaced Serbs there can be no multiethnic Kosovo and consequently no peace in the Balkans. Trajkovic told KIM Radio that Steiner agreed that the transfer of authorities to Kosovo institution has not yielded expected results, as well as that it is necessary to reinforce the KFOR presence in Obilic, Kosovsko Pomoravlje and in other areas where the security of the population has significantly deteriorated. Trajkovic said that he and Steiner also discussed the privatization process, the poor economic status of workers without jobs and the possible return of Serb workers to their jobs in the Electrical Supply and Distribution Company. There was also discussion of the incident that occurred today in Kosovo Polje at the meeting. Trajkovic emphasized that the hospital in Kosovo Polje needs to remain available for the medical treatment of Serbs in this part of Kosovo and Metohija.

Zdravko Vitosevic: Violation of human rights (19 June 2003)

Coordinating Center for Kosovo and Metohija health coordinator Zdravko Vitosevic in a statement for KIM Radio most sharply condemned the clash of members of the Kosovo Police Service and UNMIK police with Serb physicians in Kosovo Polje. "The injuries sustained while on the job by Kosovo Polje Health Center director Dr. Zorica Jovanic and other medical staff represent not only a violation of their fundamental human rights but a threat to their right to life," said Vitosevic.





B92, Belgrade
19 June 2003

BELGRADE -- Thursday - International police in Kosovo Polje today used tear gas and batons to clear patients and medical staff from a hospital, after they refused to leave on the demand of police and Kosovo Protection Corps troops.

Ten doctors suffered minor injuries during the attack, staff physician Nebojsa Djelatovic told media.

Russian KFOR troops, who are at the end of a phased withdrawal from Kosovo, had previously managed the facility, and had agreed that Serb medical staff should take over the care of all 35 patients.

Only swift intervention by Kosovo Serb MP Randjel Nojkic and other Serb politicians had averted a broader conflict, the head of Belgrade's Kosovo Coordination Centre, Nebojsa Covic, said this afternoon.

Covic told media that the behaviour of the UNMIK police was inadmissible.

"UNMIK police seem to act tough only when it comes to Serbs," said Covic, adding that the international police force had still not apprehended a single perpetrator of crimes against the Serb population.

"An agreement was made that Serb doctors and patients remain in the hospital," Covic told Beta agency, adding that he was in direct contact with the hospital administrator and expected the agreement to be respected.

Covic also said that UNMIK chief Michael Steiner had previously received a written request about the hospital and that Kosovo Serb MP Gojko Savic had attended yesterday's handover.

"It's quite normal for the hospital to offer admission and medical assistance to the Serb national community, whether Russian doctors are present or not," said Covic.


Four years after NATO's arrival, Serbs and Albanians are still deeply divided



MACLEANS (CANADA), Wednesday, June 23, 2003 World


During the bloody breakup of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, Ottawa
journalist Scott Taylor travelled repeatedly to the region. Later, during
the 1999 conflict in the Serbian province of Kosovo, he spent 26 days in
Belgrade and Pristina, Kosovo's capital. This year, Taylor returned to
Kosovo in late May, almost four years after the fighting ended. He says that
despite the presence of thousands of NATO troops, and millions of dollars in
foreign aid, crime is rampant, while tensions remain between Serbs and
ethnic Albanians -- who make up the majority in Kosovo. Taylor's report:

THE CROWD of Serbs gathered outside the charred remains of a small home on
the outskirts of Pristina was nervous. Hours earlier, at about 2 a.m. on
June 4, someone crept into the house and beat Slobodan Stolic, 80, his wife
Radmila, 78, and their son Ljubinko, 53, to death with what police described
as a blunt instrument, and then torched the house. The brutal message was
not lost on neighbours, who believe the three were murdered by Albanian
extremists trying to drive the remaining Serbs out of the village. And it
was a stark reminder that Kosovo is still a violent place, one where the
soldiers who came to protect ethnic Albanians from Serbs in 1999 now spend
their time trying to shield Serbs from Albanians. "Kosovo," says James
Bissett, Canada's former ambassador to Yugoslavia, "continues to be one of
the most dangerous places on earth -- with little hope for the future."

In 1999, to escape Serbian forces sent in to suppress them, nearly one
million ethnic Albanians fled Kosovo for refugee camps in neighbouring
Albania and Macedonia (Kosovo's population of 2.2 million was about 90 per
cent Albanian). Most of the refugees have since returned; now, thanks to
nearly $2.7 billion the West has spent on aid, the country seems to be
prospering. But appearances are deceiving. Nearly 18,000 NATO peacekeepers
patrol Kosovo, and a UN police force, made up of 4,400 officers from around
the world, tries to enforce the law. Some say they are losing the fight.
Criminal gangs, operating under the guise of Albanian nationalist militias,
traffic in drugs, weapons, and women for the European sex trade. If it
wasn't for the millions of dollars in foreign aid washing through the
province there would be little work. All this leaves Bissett wondering what
the West has accomplished. "The justification for NATO's intervention was to
build a democratic multi-ethnic society," says Bissett. "But little progress
has been made to establish law and order."

Following the war, over 200,000 Serbs fled the province. The remaining
40,000 live in isolated enclaves along the Serbian border. Nationalist
groups, like the Albanian National Army, are using terror tactics in an
attempt to drive them out. On May 17, in the village of Vrbovac, 41-year-old
Serbian professor Zoran Mirkovic was shot repeatedly in the chest and head.
Although UN police are still investigating, the ANA, which is made up of
members of the original Kosovo Liberation Army, may have been behind the

The ANA is one of several militant groups that are determined to make
Kosovo, which is still part of Serbia, an independent state. Like other
militias, they are also involved in organized crime, but still enjoy wide
public support for their efforts to drive out the remaining Serbs. Although
police have arrested some key Albanian crime bosses, the problem persists,
says Derek Chappell, 51, a former constable with the Ottawa Police Service
who now works with the UN police as chief of public information in Pristina.
He says because the country was oppressed for so long, the line between
freedom fighter and criminal is often blurred. And whenever the UN makes
high-profile arrests, those apprehended wrap themselves in the flag of
Albanian nationalism, and the streets are suddenly filled with protestors.

Most Western countries had expected democracy, not the mafia, to thrive in
Kosovo. And although under the terms of the 1999 ceasefire agreement, Kosovo
was to remain Serbian territory -- albeit a region with its own parliament
-- many nations quickly established some measure of diplomatic relations
with the province. Canada was one of the first, when then-foreign affairs
minister Lloyd Axworthy cut a ceremonial ribbon to open Canada's offices in
Pristina in November 1999. Since then, the Canadian International
Development Agency has spent more than $100 million in Kosovo on programs
that include teacher training and helping to rebuild the country's shattered

The UN had hoped that both Serbs and ethnic Albanians would be fairly
represented in the Kosovo Assembly, which was elected under UN supervision
in November 2001. But many of the resolutions passed by the
Albanian-dominated body have been divisive. On May 15, members approved a
resolution to celebrate the contribution that KLA fighters made in the
struggle for Kosovo's liberation. Serbian delegates immediately stormed out,
and within hours, Michael Steiner, the UN's special representative in
Kosovo, reminded the assembly that NATO's intervention was initiated as a
result of "fundamental human-rights violations," not to liberate Albanians
from Serbs.

Serbs in Kosovo cannot hope for much help from the Serbian government in
Belgrade. There, criminal gangs also run rampant, and are believed
responsible for the assassination of Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic on March
12. Beset by its own problems, Belgrade may be ready to back down on its
claim to Kosovo, which was part of medieval Serbia and contains many
important Orthodox shrines. According to Slobodan Tejic, a member of the
Serbian delegation involved in negotiations with NATO, that may mean
abandoning most of the province and absorbing a number of small Serb
enclaves located along the Serbian border. "These people," said Tejic,
"cannot continue to live in limbo forever."

Kosovo Serbs might be willing to go along, but only if it means they do not
have to give up even a sliver of their remaining enclaves. That is certainly
the view in the northern city of Mitrovica, where Serbs have resisted the
movement of Albanians into their region, which stretches 60 km from the
Serbian border into Kosovo. Mitrovica is divided by the Ibar River; there, a
group known as the Bridgewatchers, who were backed by Belgrade, often
blocked the passage of Albanians. Under the terms of a recent deal with
Serbia, the UN has now opened the bridge -- and that has raised doubts among
local Serbs about their future. But most are determined to stay. "Even if
Belgrade chooses to betray us, we will continue to resist," said Bozovic
Miroljub, a 47-year-old shopkeeper. "We are not prepared to give up our
claim to any of the Serbian enclaves."

Until the issue surrounding the Serb enclaves is settled, ethnic tensions
will remain. That could mean that NATO and the UN will be bogged down in the
province for years. A harsh reality -- considering that the West is
currently facing a similar problem in Iraq. Problems could be avoided there,
says Chappell, if a strong police force were to be created immediately to
contain crime and ethnic divisions. It is a lesson the West was slow to
learn in Kosovo -- and a mistake that may be in the process of being
repeated in Iraq.

Scott Taylor is publisher of Ottawa-based Esprit de Corps magazine.


Intimidation and the murder of witnesses in Kosovo hinders the UN's fight against organized crime.




(UN)Protected Witnesses
19 June 2003

Intimidation and the murder of witnesses in Kosovo hinders the UN's fight against organized crime.

by Hugh Griffiths

PRISTINA, Kosovo--A high-profile United Nations witness and two of his family members are murdered in the center of Peje (Pec), Kosovo's second city. Another witness is also gunned down, and the police station in Peje is attacked by grenades after an officer calls on witnesses in a murder investigation to come forward to testify.

The incidents form part of a concerted campaign of witness intimidation and liquidation, according to a recent report by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

In January, UN witness Tahir Zemaj, together with his son and nephew, were gunned down on a crowded Peje street in broad daylight.

Zemaj was a key witness in the "Dugajini group" trial, in which five Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) members were sentenced to a total of 31 years in prison for the abduction, torture, and murder of four members of a rival faction in June 1999. One of those sentenced was UCK commander Daut Haradinaj, brother of Ramush Haradinaj, another UCK commander who is now leader of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK).

UN police launched a massive investigation into the Zemaj murder, questioning more than 40 people who were on the street at the time of the killing.

Shortly after the murder, international officials sounded cautiously
optimistic: "I have been heartened to hear that so many witnesses have come forward; the police have strong leads, and they are collecting evidence. Progress has been made in identifying those involved," Michael Steiner, head of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), said on 8 January.

But five months later, no one has been charged with the murder. The dozens of witnesses questioned claim they saw nothing.

Public cooperation is key, according to UN police spokesperson Derek Chappell. "We cannot solve the crime without the people's cooperation," Chappell says.

"I continually get the same answer from witnesses," Rene Gobeyn, the former head of the crime squad in Peje that investigated the Zemaj killing, says. "They saw nothing, they heard nothing, and they don't know what happened."

The murders have everyone running scared, and it seems unlikely that anyone will be willing to come forward to testify when the UN seems to be having a problem protecting its witnesses.

"My sister saw the killing, and so did at least 15 other people who were in town that day," said a Peje resident, who asked to remain anonymous. "But no one is going to talk. We are afraid. The killings show that the UN cannot protect its own witnesses."

"We're dealing with a three-monkey syndrome here," said an investigator who worked on the Zemaj case. "The see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil attitude prevents us from solving the case. The UN has to set up a better witness protection program before people will speak."

The police investigating the case have also been targeted. After an emotional appeal by chief investigator Rene Gobeyn for witnesses, the police station in Peje was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.

In the meantime, many of the original officers on the Zemaj case have been re-assigned outside of Peje.

"The Zemaj killing was a terrible warning for those who would testify in western Kosovo," said a prominent human rights activist in the neighbouring town of Gjakove (Djakovica) who asked to remain anonymous. "And until the UN shows that it can protect witnesses, organized crime will continue to institutionalize itself."


The signs are indeed ominous.

In April, another high-profile witness in the "Dugajini group" trial was murdered, this time outside Peje. Ilir Selimaj and his aunt, Feride, were shot dead with automatic weapons. Selimaj's brother, Deme, claims that Illir had received multiple threats before, during, and after the trial.

"Before the murder, there were two other attempts. In spring of last year they tried to kill our son-in-law at the exact spot where Ilir was killed a year later. Three days later, our house was fired upon and grenades were thrown. Ilir had received verbal warnings throughout the trial," Deme says.

In its latest review of the criminal justice system in Kovoso, the OSCE documented in detail the campaign to liquidate high-profile witnesses, such as Selimaj and Zemaj.

"Intimidation in Kosovo has always been a problem because of the nature of society," the review's author, Richard Rogers, says. "But what has happened recently is that it has become more high-profile."

"The perception is that (intimidation) is on the increase, and that's what matters, whether it's on the increase in terms of numbers, it's impossible to say because people are not coming forward. They are too scared to come to the police," Rogers says.

The OSCE review highlights a key weakness in UNMIK"s fight against organized crime: the lack of an effective witness protection program that Kosovars trust.

"Kosovars are innately cynical about the authorities in Kosovo. For too many years they had to deal with corrupt and ethnically biased governments, and now, parallel to the international presence, there's another structure, and I think that power structure is more present in people's lives and psyches than the international one," says Rogers.

His views are echoed by Peje's residents.

"What happens to you after you testify ?" asks a witness who was questioned by police. "The UN does not offer you a ticket out of Kosovo, and staying in Kosovo afterward is too dangerous."

Rogers acknowledges these concerns, saying they've been identified, if not dealt with.

"We've identified witness relocation as one of the main difficulties, it's impossible to relocate witnesses within Kosovo, so I think the international community will have to accept a few witnesses if they want to solve the organized crime problem," he says.

Currently, protected witnesses and their families are placed in a safe house in Kosovo. But accommodation is limited.

"The safe house simply does not have the facilities to protect the larger number of witnesses one would expect in a high-profile case. They can only accommodate five witnesses and their families at the moment," Rogers explains.

"Many (witnesses) don't enter into the witness protection program because they have to live in a safe house. This is difficult for their families, and we've had people pull out of the program because of this."

Another problem faced by the international administrators is coordination, which Rogers describes as "very bad, because the two main measures for witness protection have developed separately, the police with the Witness Protection Unit, and the measures that the courts can impose."

Even when witnesses make it to the courtroom, they are vulnerable there because of a lack of security equipment. Kosovo courtrooms do not have voice altering devices or closed circuit television for witnesses.

But while logistics and coordination need to be improved, the root of the problem is a lack of funding.

"The most obvious problem . is a lack of resources," Rogers says. "The Witness Protection Unit was established in June 2001 and, as far as I know, [resources] haven't been increased substantially since then."

Other international organizations have been more critical of the United Nations. The International Crisis Group (ICG) in their "Scales of Justice in Kosovo" report says, "The UN's witness protection program remains a shell."

"It's the same old, same old UN problem: mounds of paper and not enough coordinated action or resources in the right places," says a foreign analysis who wished to remain anonymous. "There are some decent cops trying to make sense of a bureaucratic, leaky system. Except this time, it's not a simple administrative cock-up that can be ignored, it's life or death for the Kosovars involved. No wonder people are not coming forward."

The question of confidentiality within the UN system has also been a major concern for witnesses.

"Witnesses are scared of what will happen when the Witness Protections Unit takes on Kosovar Police Service (KPS) members. They feel that because some KPS are ex-UCK, their security will be compromised," the foreign analyst explains.

Natasa Kandic, director of Belgrade's Humanitarian Law Fund, identifies a related problem.

"One problem is that Albanians do not want to go on the record in front of other Albanians," Kandic says.

One of the Fund's most prominent lawyers, Ibish Hoti, was murdered in Peje on in November 2002.

"Ibish had gone to the UN in Pristina to complain about threats made against his life," Kandic relates. "He doesn't speak English, so the police brought in a translator. But he could not say who he thought was behind the threats because he recognized the translator as having some connections with those who would see him harmed."

The OSCE's review was submitted to the UN's Department of Justice, which is responsible for the police, courts, and witness protection. Rogers is optimistic that the Department of Justice will benefit from the report, and he is heartened by the appointment of Paul Coffee as department's new director.

"He is the former head of organized crime at the U.S. Justice Department in Washington, and he's the right man for the job. The question is whether he can use his experience and energy to get the UN working effectively," Rogers says.

But ICG analyst Tom Langley cannot muster even that optimism.

"It's a step in the right direction," Longley admits, "but without more member state support, the Department of Justice can forget about protected witnesses and kiss their promised campaign against organised crime goodbye."

Hugh Griffiths is an aid worker with the charity Medecins du Monde Sweden (www.lakareivarlden.org). He has written on the Balkans since 1996.


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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