Thursday, March 31, 2005

Kosovo police hold TV crew for 72 hours after violent incident

(c) 2005 The British Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved. No material may be reproduced except with the express permission of The British Broadcasting Corporation.

Text of unattributed report entitled "ShPK members attack RTK crew, detain them for 72 hours" published by the Kosovo Albanian newspaper Koha Ditore on 31 March

Prishtina [Pristina], 30 March: Parking a vehicle in the wrong place has cost a crew of the Kosova [Kosovo] Radio Television [RTK] "dearly". The arguments between the RTK crew and the Kosova Police Service [ShPK] members in an effort to explain the situation ended in violence against RTK reporter Behxhet Begu. Though quite seriously injured, Begu and other members of the RTK crew - the cameraman and driver - ended up in the police station in Vushtrri [Vucitrn]. The police have confirmed that physical violence was used against the RTK crew, and Behxhet Begu has sustained slight injuries.

RTK executive director Liridon Canhasi has described the attack on his television crew as a "drastic violation of the freedom of expression". "The worst of it is that the attack was carried out by those (police officers) who have sworn and are paid to maintain order, and not to use violence," he said.

According to lawyer Tome Gashi, the grave incident of police brutality took place "as a result of a problem related to parking the vehicle". He said Behxhet Begu, head of the television crew, had suffered bodily injuries as result of police violence against him.

Gashi told Koha Ditore that the police have decided to hold the RTK crew in detention for 72 hours, and that reporter Behxhet Begu has already been transferred to Mitrovice [Kosovska Mitrovica] prison. He also said that the police have confiscated the RTK crew's cameras, and have refused to show the filmed material in his presence and that of ShPK seniors. Gashi explained that the police have decided to hold the three RTK employees in detention under "attack on police" charges.

Kosova Police Service spokesperson Refki Morina has also confirmed this. He said the three members of the RTK crew and their companion will spend the next 72 hours in detention. "After viewing the scene of the incident, and after taking the statements of both parties involved, the public prosecutor ruled that the three RTK crew members and their companion are given 72 hours detention each," Morina said.

He rejected the RTK reporter's statement that it was the police that had started the argument and that police officers had used violence against the RTK team. "Initially, the police asked them to remove their vehicle, which had been parked in a prohibited area, and only after the RTK team refused to remove the vehicle and insulted the police did the police officer send them to the police station," he said. He added that the case had been passed on to the prosecution, and it remains to be seen how the whole story will end.

[Box] AGPK calls for protests in front of police headquarters in Prishtina and regional police stations

The Association of Professional Journalists of Kosova (AGPK) has decided to invite all Kosova journalists to a protest in front of the police headquarters in Prishtina and regional police stations today (Thursday, 31 March) at 1100 hours [0900 gmt] if the police do not immediately release the RTK employees and if the police officers involved in the incident with the RTK crew are not suspended from duty.

The AGKP has likewise invited all editorial staff of all media outlets, journalist associations of Kosova, trade unions and reporters' clubs from all over Kosova to protest in front of the regional police stations starting from 1100 hours today until the Kosova Police Service offers official confirmation that the RTK employees have been released and the police officers involved in the incident are suspended.

Source: Koha Ditore, Pristina, in Albanian 31 Mar 05 p 4

No comments: