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Kosova Daily Report #1335, 98-02-02

Kosovo Information Center: Kosova Daily Report Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: Kosova Information Center <>

Kosova Information Center


Prishtina, 2 February 1998


  • [01] Milosevic's Police Committed the Worst Abuses Against Albanians, US State Dept Report Notes
  • [02] US Diplomat at OSCE Calls for Observation of Upcoming Elections in Kosova
  • [03] Mounting Serbian Police Repression in Sk&nderaj

  • [01] Milosevic's Police Committed the Worst Abuses Against Albanians, US State Dept Report Notes

    PRISHTINA, Feb 2 (KIC) - "The Serbian police committed the most widespread and worst abuses against Kosovo's 90-percent ethnic Albanian population", a U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices released in late January.

    A 20-page report on "Serbia and Montenegro", covering fields where human rights abuses occurred during the last year, demonstrates that it was Kosova that bore the brunt of Belgrade regime's notorious policies.

    Serbia-Montenegro is dominated by Slobodan Milosevic who controls the country through his role as President of the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS), the report says at the outset. "As a key element of his hold on power, President Milosevic effectively controls the Serbian police, a heavily armed force of over 100,000 that is responsible for internal security. Serbian police committed extensive and systematic human rights abuses. The police committed numerous, serious abuses including extrajudicial killings, torture, brutal beatings, and arbitrary arrests. Police repression continued to be directed against ethnic minorities, and police committed the most widespread and worst abuses against Kosovo's 90- percent ethnic Albanian population".

    Under the section "Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing" the report notes that political violence, including killings by police, resulted mostly from efforts by Serbian authorities "to suppress and intimidate ethnic minority groups".

    The report offers some illustrative examples of extrajudicial killings of Kosovar Albanians, such as Xhafer Hajdari from Mitrovica, Adrian Krasniqi, a 21-year-old Albanian from Peja, Besnik Restelica, an engineer from Podujeva, and Jonuz Zeneli, who died while in police custody.

    "Crimes against citizens of ethnic minority groups appear to have been rarely investigated, nor were police generally held accountable for their excesses" the report said.

    Under the rubric "Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment" the report notes that "torture and other cruel forms of punishment, which are prohibited by law, continue to be a problem, particularly in Kosovo directed against ethnic Albanians. Police routinely beat people severely when holding them in detention".

    It notes that during the early part of the year scores of Albanians charged with supporting a separatist agenda and terrorist-related activities, were arrested, who were subjected to worst police brutality during the 3 to 4 day period of incommunicado detention.

    "Ethnic Albanians continue to suffer at the hands of security forces conducting searches for weapons and explosives. The police, without following proper legal procedures, frequently extract "confessions" during interrogations that routinely include the beating of suspects' feet, hands, genital areas, and sometimes heads. The police use their fists, nightsticks, and occasionally electric shocks. Apparently confident that there would be no reprisals, and, in an attempt to intimidate the wider community, police often beat persons in front of their families...

    Police also used threats and violence against family members of suspects and have held them as hostages. According to Albanian and foreign observers, the worst abuses against ethnic Albanians took place not in big towns but in rural enclaves".

    "Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile" is the next chapter of the U.S. Department of State Country Report which reads that "arbitrary arrest and detention was concentrated primarily in Kosovo and, to a lesser degree, in Sandzak".

    Defense lawyers complained of excessive delays in filing formal charges and opening investigations and that they faced difficulties in gaining access to detainees or acquiring copies of official indictments. In some cases, judges prevented defense attorneys from reading the court file.

    "In a country where many if not most of the adult males in the Serbian population are armed, the police, according to some members of minorities, selectively enforced the laws regulating the possession and registration of firearms so as to harass and intimidate ethnic minorities, particularly Albanian Kosovars and Bosniak Muslims. The most frequent justification given for searches of homes and arrests was illegal possession of weapons.

    Observers allege that in Kosovo the police are known to use the pretext of searching for weapons when in fact they are also searching for hard currency", the report reads.

    Under the section "Denial of Fair Public Trial" the report said that during the last year defense lawyers in Kosova filed numerous complaints about flagrant breaches of standard procedure which they believed undermined their clients' rights. "Even when individual judges have admitted that the lawyers are correct, courts have ignored or dismissed the complaints".

    The report recalls that 60 Albanians were tried during last summer and autumn in "questionable trials" in Prishtina; they were sentenced to imprisonment up to 20 years. The defendants who were charged with preparing to conspire to participate in activities endangering the territorial integrity of the FRY denied charges.

    "Much evidence appeared to have been obtained by authorities through forced confessions of defendants under duress. Other evidence was kept from defense attorneys until right before the trial" the report quoted the UN Spacial Rapporteur Rehn in regard to the three trials.

    The Serb police has systematically searched homes, shops and offices of Albanians, asserting that they were searching for weapons, the report said, and cited the Prishtina-based Council for the Defense of Human Rights and Freedoms, as saying that the police also used threats and violence against family members of suspects and have held them as hostages.

    The chapter "Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association" notes that Federal and republic-level constitutions provide for freedom of peaceful assembly and association but the government restricted this right. "In Kosovo the regime cracked down on peaceful demonstrators during their October 1 and late December protests, when police used tear gas and clubs, injuring several passersby" The report said that some ethnic Albanians are being held as political prisoners adding that during the year, the International Committee of the Red Cross was allowed to conduct prison visits in Kosovo, but its work was seriously obstructed with respect to visiting the ethnic Albanians charged with terrorist-related activities who went on trial beginning in the spring.

    "There were credible reports that Muslims and ethnic Albanians continued to be driven from their homes or fired from their jobs on the basis of religion or ethnicity" the chapter "National,Racial, Ethnic Minorities" of the report reads.

    [02] US Diplomat at OSCE Calls for Observation of Upcoming Elections in Kosova

    PRISHTINA, Feb 2 (KIC) - Mrs Elizabeth Bonkowsky, member of the U.S. Mission to the OSCE in Vienna, called during a meeting of the OSCE ad-hoc group on Kosova for the upcoming elections in Kosova, scheduled for 22 March 1998, to be observed by representatives of Belgrade-based embassies of OSCE member countries, the Prishtina-based Albanian daily Koha Ditore reported today.

    This is a sign that OSCE may get involved in observing these elections, says Koha Ditore. The Organization has not yet received an official invitation from Prishtina, a diplomatic source told the newspaper on condition of anonymity.

    Ms. Bonkowsky served at the U.S. diplomatic mission in Belgrade for a couple of years.

    [03] Mounting Serbian Police Repression in Sk&nderaj

    PRISHTINA, Feb 2 (KIC) - Following the police attack on the Jashari Family in Sk&nderaj and the killing of the Hysen Manxholli from Mikushnica, the mysterious disappearance of Idriz Idrizi from Prekaz i Ep&rm, and alleged reports of Serbian media of "free territories", the Serbian police have stepped-up repression and provocations in the region.

    Heavy Serbian police and military forces drove along Runik-Sk&nderaj-Qirez road provoking local Albanian residents. The convoy was closely observed by a helicopter, LDK sources in Sk&nderaj reported.

    These movement of the Serbian police and military forces were escorted by armed civilians, based in the Serbian police station in Sk&nderaj and the Game Ammunition Factory in Sk&nderaj.

    The Council of Human Rights reported that the Serbian police have on many occasions beat up local residents, among whom Xhavit Kalleci from Polac, owner of a driving school. Mr. Kalleci had been beaten severely under the charges that his car was not in order. He was inflicted heavy body injuries.

    The police beat severely brothers Lutfi and Mustaf& Krasniqi from Vojnik. They were punched on their head and body severely with gun-butt-ends. They were accused of having attacked the Serbian police at a place called Vojnik, and of being members of the so-called U^K.

    Lutfi Krasniqi was tortured in front of his wife and two children.

    The Human Rights Council has recorded a number of other cases of ill- treatment and torture conducted by the Serbian police in Sk&nderaj, adding also that they still have no information on Idriz Idrizi from Prekaz i Ep&rm, who has been missing since 23 January.

    Kosova Information Center

    Kosovo Information Center: Kosova Daily Report Directory - Previous Article - Next Article
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