UN And Other Organizations In Kosovo Harbor KLA Criminals
D.W. is an UNMIK Police Officer in Kosovo. His identity is known to Reality Macedonia, but for his personal safety, it will stay unrevealed.
Interviewed by Irina Gelevska
Reality: There are opinions that the UNMIK Police is not very effective in fighting crime in Kosovo. Some UNMIK police officers are stopped in doing their job. Can you tell us by whom and why?
D.W.:UNMIK Police is not very effective for a variety of reasons. The most obvious problem is that the citizens of Kosovo (all ethnicities) don't always cooperate with investigations or simply don't report crimes as they happen. As an example, the Albanians are still somewhat suspicious and fearful of any police authority because of the events that occurred before the war and Serbs generally do not believe UNMIK to be a legitimate authority.
A bigger problem is the police themselves. When I left the mission, 36 countries were contributing police officers to the mission. Each country has different methods of policing and each individual officer have different skill levels. For example, American (North American), British, German, French (Western European in general) and Russian officers have a very good understanding of modern police methods, but our Indian (Asian sub-continent in general), Nigerian (African in general) officers are years if not decades behind. I had to train some of my less fortunate colleagues the very basic principles of modern police work as practiced by the West.
Another issue is time spent in the mission. Americans were generally expected to commit one year to the mission, while other countries would only allow their officers to stay 6 or 9 months. The UN will only allow officers to work in any mission up to three years. In my case, I could have stayed two more years, but I was needed at home.
Another factor is who is running the police operation. While I was there, Sven Fredricksen was the Commissioner of Police and it was his opinion that there were no problems. The most recent commissioner at least recognized that there is an organized crime problem.
Some officers were stopped from doing their jobs. In one case, my station was investigating a man named Kadoli who was a close friend of Hashim Thachi. Kadoli was involved with operating a parallel government structure in the city where I worked. This government structure was involved with forcibly evicting people out of their homes using their own police who were former members of the UCK military police (PU). They were also collecting taxes illegally and operating various other schemes to collect money for PDK, Thaqi's political party. Kadoli was involved in a very unfortunate incident where he threatened to kill the local UNMIK administrator and became very violent because has was asked to move his office out of the Municipality building. I had the unfortunate task of informing the investigating officers that the Kadoli investigation was to be closed. The order was given to me by my station commander and I can only assume that he was also ordered to stop the investigation. Who made these orders? I do not know.
Reality: Is it true that UNMIK Police stop cooperating with the police organizations from other countries in the region for criminal investigations? That even sometimes UNMIK Police does not give any information of wanted criminals from Kosovo to other police organizations? Can you give us an example? Does that mean that UNMIK Police is protecting the privileged criminals?
D.W.:We were not able to cooperate with other International Police agencies for a variety of reasons. The most important was the relationship between UNMIK and INTERPOL. By treaty, the only authorized INTERPOL office in Yugoslavia was in Belgrade. The Serbian government had no interest in helping us, so UNMIK had no access to INTERPOL. Because of this, according to UNMIK, we could not legally access other international police agencies for information and in turn, they could not ask us for help.
I remember one case where a Swiss military police officer observed a car in town with Swiss license plates. The officer called the Suisse Police in Switzerland and discovered that the car had been reported stolen. The MP's seized the car and arrested the driver, a TMK officer. Through the KFOR chain of command, the MP was ordered to release the driver and the car because he (the MP) had "illegally" accessed the Swiss Police database.
I know of another incident where some Italian police officers stopped a car near Orahovac that was occupied by Akim Cheku and his bodyguards. An armed standoff commenced when Cheku's bodyguards took defensive positions around the car armed with automatic weapons. The Italian officer's were ordered by the regional commander (a German) to release Cheku and his men. The regional commander seemed to know what was happening as it was happening. This incident was not discussed at any staff meeting I attended, so I don't know where the orders came from.
Reality: There have been cases when UNMIK Police did not cooperate with KFOR troops during weapon search operations. You were witness to Austrian KFOR soildiers who were refused help by the UNMIK.Can you tell us more details?
D.W.: We were working with Austrian KFOR troops find and destroy weapons illegal caches that we believed belonged to UCK/KLA/TMK. With the help of surveillance aircraft, we located three bunkers that contained thousands of mortar rounds, mortar tubes and thousands of rounds of small arms ammunition. All of these items were destroyed in place by KFOR, but we (UNMIK) were ordered not to assist in these operations anymore. It is my understanding that the orders came from the Police Commissioner's officer in Pristina. We were told that it was for our safety and that these matters were more military in nature and of no concern to the police. I was told by an Austrian KFOR officer that they were also ordered not to perform this type of weapon search, but I cannot confirm if this order was actually given or not.
Reality: Have any weapons or men in the NLA in Macedonia come from Kosovo during the conflict?
D.W.: I assume that most, if not all of the weapons came from Kosovo and I know that there were UCPMB training operations in eastern Kosovo before the problems started in southern Serbia and Northern Macedonia before and during the outbreak of violence. These camps were frequently raided by American KFOR units and weapons and supplies were seized. I also know of weapon shipments that were intercepted by KFOR in the mountains north of Tetevo long before the problems started. I assume that these weapons came from KLA/UCK stores, but they may have come directly from Albania.
Reality: What is UNMIK Police doing with the arrested persons handed over by KFOR? Do UNMIK Police release them after a while without raising any criminal charges against them?
D.W.: In my station most of, if not all of the persons arrested by KFOR and released to UNMIK police were taken before the local prosecutor and judge. I know of two incidents where KFOR arrested Hashim Tachi's brother after searching his residence. Both searches revealed illegal weapons and large amounts of money. One case involved DM500.000. On both occasions, KFOR released the arrested person to UNMIK police in Pristina and both times UNMIK police were ordered to release him. I was told that SRSG Bernard Kouchner ordered the release.
Reality: What is your opinion of KPC? Most of the members of KCP are ex-members of UCK. Did they fit well into the civil organization as KPC?
D.W.: TMK/KPC is the military arm of PDK. Thaqi, in my opinion, controls KPC. KPC is a very corrupt organization that has no interest in rebuilding Kosovo. Most of the members that I was familiar with were only interested in filling their pockets money and carrying guns. My early experience with KPC involved evictions. KPC personnel were evicting Kosovar Albanian civilians from there homes so that the UCK "hero's" could move in. Because KPC is composed of mainly former UCK members, in my opinion it is still a terrorist organization.
Reality: What is the connection of the KPC commander general, Agim Cheku, with crime gangs in Kosovo?
D.W.: I believe that Cheku is a major figure in organized crime in the Balkans. Unfortunately, I have no evidence to support my opinion.
Reality: There are rumours that Hashim Thaqi is also involved in criminal activities in Kosovo. Can you add anything to that?
D.W.: Thaqi's involvement in organized crime seems obvious, but again, there is no direct evidence. Thaqi's position as a high ranking UCK officer would lead one to believe that he as intimate knowledge of the UCK's activities before the war, including drug trafficking. It is also very obvious that opponents or enemies of PDK have been assassinated and such an order would come from Thaqi. I am embarrassed that my government recognizes this animal as a leader.
In your opionin as a police officer, what is the worst crime in
D.W.: Kosovo's largest problem is organized crime. Organized crime controls the gun, drug and prostitution markets. I firmly believe that Thaqi controls this too, but again.no proof.
Law and order in Kosovo may never be achieved. The policies of the UN inherently interfere with effective police work and many of the International police officers are not qualified to do this kind of work. They try very hard, but the task is too difficult. The International community in Kosovo is not able to handle the task either.
Some Americans believe that the crisis in the Balkans is a European problem. Those of us that have lived and worked in the region realize that stability in Eastern and Central Europe as well as near Asia is at stake. If the region is allowed to crumble, the security and stability of the entire area will crumble as well.