Monday, November 29, 2004

Kosovo NGO says cases of Albanian March riot victims not investigated

The Council for the Defence of Human Rights and Freedoms [KMDLNj] accused UNMIK [UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo] today of failing to investigate murder incidents during the March riots in which the victims were Albanians. On the other hand, the international administration insists that all cases are under investigation and says that there have been Serbs, too, who have been prosecuted in connection with the riots.

"The KMDLNj has been closely watching the trials of those accused of carrying out the violence that took place on 16, 17, and 18 March 2004 and the sentences handed down. The KMDLNj supports the sentences in cases in which guilt has been proven but, at the same time, it expresses its dissatisfaction with the investigation process," KMDLNj executive director Behxhet Shala told the media.

He said: "Violence and crime should be condemned without exception because, otherwise, selective punishment and responsibility will cause a new wave of violence."

But, Neeraj Singh, an UNMIK spokesman, told KosovaLive that all cases were being investigated with dedication. He said that, for example, a Serb has been sentenced to five years imprisonment for throwing a grenade at international peacekeepers.

"The KMDLNj calls for an investigation into all incidents where there were human victims, regardless of their ethnic background. This means holding to account all those responsible for the violent events during March and all UNMIK Police and Kfor [Kosovo Force] members responsible for the fact that there were victims among the protesters. The KMDLNj also calls for continuation of the investigation into the drowning of the three Albanian children in Caber [Cabra]," Shala said.

According to him, the investigation has been directed mostly against Albanians and only Albanians have been sentenced so far. "Incidents in which Albanian citizens were the victims have not been investigated," he said.

UNMIK rejects these accusations. "It is true that no charges have been brought in cases in which the victims were Albanians, but all cases are under investigation. We can give our assurance that investigations are not motivated by ethnic background but by evidence of crimes," Singh said.

Singh said that charges had been brought in two cases in which the victims were Serbs

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