UNMIK-KFOR-UNMIK Police Press Briefing, 20 Aug 2001
KFOR Spokesman Howard Rhoades
UNMIK Police Spokesman Dean Olson
The border with FYROM remains closed and according to our security assessment may stay closed for a few days. So far it has impeded rotations of the UNMIK Police. We will try to get you an update on the effects on the population in the near future. Medical supplies are currently not effected as shipments had come in just before the border closed, but if it continues for several more days, it could be a problem as the next shipments are due at the end of the week. Once again, we find the border closure unacceptable: we are not a party to the conflict in FYROM. We support the peace process. We see no reason to punish Kosovo.
The Interim Administrative Council will meet tomorrow, when Mr. Haekkerup will brief members on the recent meetings with head of the Coordination Center for FRY and Serbia with Kosovo, Nebojsa Covic. They will also discuss elections preparations and receive a security update.
Mr. Covic met with Mr. Jean-Christian Cady and UNMIK judicial officials at the Mitrovica detention center Friday. Mr. Covic also met with the prisoners on hunger strike. Two of those prisoners have been hospitalized over the weekend, for kidney and heart attacks. One other has ended the hunger strike: although we have reason to believe the hunger strike may be resolved in the near future, there is a demonstration in support of the hunger strike at mid day today.
Friday's meeting was long and productive. It involved specific details on conditions but also a wider discussion on how both UNMIK and the Serbian Ministry of Justice can contribute to improving further the judicial process and enhancing the trust of the people in the judicial system. Both parties said they will work to increase the number of Serb judiciary with the goal of a multi-ethnic judicial system for Kosovo, available to all communities on an equal and impartial basis. Cooperation on this will continue in the near future.
Regarding registration, the figures are still quite low and I would like to appeal to the Kosovo Serb communities to register as soon as possible. We understand registration will not go on past 8 September, and it is crucial that all communities register, to be counted as residents of Kosovo, and to have the chance to vote and have representation in the Assembly and a voice in the future governance of Kosovo. The latest figures from Serbia outside Kosovo are 11,749 IDPs registered. In Montenegro, there are 150 and in Kosovo, 2114.The latter figure is from communities which did not register last time, therefore it includes Serbs, Romas and others.
Over the weekend, there were three tragic drownings - Two children, 10 and 12, drowned in two different lakes. A third, 19, drowned in a pool in Ferizaj. It goes without saying that while there are no lifeguards at the lakes where people swim here, families must watch their children.
Suvi Do Incident
The situation in Suvi Do remains tense after a minor traffic accident yesterday between an Albanian and Serb turned into a major riot with dozens of Albanians stoning the house of an unrelated K. Serb family. KFOR had to extricate the family. Several KFOR and UNMIK police were injured.
Just a couple of points this morning as generally the situation in Kosovo has remained calm over the past few days allowing KFOR to conduct its routine operations as events to the south of Kosovo to take centre stage. We have continued our framework operations this week and will reinforce our main efforts to seize illegal weapons and detain men trying to cross illegally from FYROM. This means will continue to conduct our operations against the supply lines of the extremists in order to further the peace process and help bring stability to this Region. Further operations have also been carried out in Multinational Brigade Centre and West proving a success once again thanks to robust patrolling and vigilant observation.
The following weapons were discovered following extensive searches over the past few days. These included: assault rifles, Grenades, pistols, ammunition, fuses and anti-personnel mines. This proves KFOR's continuing commitment to the people of Kosovo and our efforts to support a safe and secure environment for all.
Since the beginning of Operation Eagle, which is concentrated mainly in the border areas of South and East Kosovo, we have seized more than 600 rifles, over a thousand anti-tank weapons and over 100 rockets and missiles. A total of 537 people have been questioned and over 139,000 rounds or ammunition destroyed.
Suvi Do Situation
Two patrols from Multinational Brigade North were deployed yesterday evening at Suvi Do (North Mitrovica) to support UNMIK-Police following a car accident between a Kosovo-Albanian and Kosovo-Serb. UNMIK-Police tried to disperse a gathering of around 60 people. Four French soldiers were slightly injured by stones. Calm was restored some hours later after the MNB (N) commander and the Mayor of Mitrovica met and talked to the crowd. The situation remains quiet but KFOR has intensified patrols and security in the area.
Many of you will already know that the border crossing between Macedonia and Kosovo at Blace remains closed to all traffic. The problem appears to be a road-block several kilometres inside FYROM. KFOR believes that this does nothing to further the political process there. However, negotiations are ongoing and the FYROM authorities have promised to do what they can to re-open the route as soon as possible.
KFOR were disappointed to hear suggestions last week that British troops had forcibly entered the CPT building. I would just like to take this opportunity to clarify this position. We categorically deny that there was any forcible entry. It was a routine visit to an important building in the Commanding Officer's area of responsibility. In addition, he was visiting the soldiers under his command who are based at the CPT building. Their use of 2 rooms in the building is based on an agreement between KFOR and the building manager. I would also stress that the KFOR troops presence is for the benefit of the occupants of the building.
I will end this morning's statement with a warning to those trying to smuggle goods into Kosovo whether they be animal, mineral or vegetable. A KFOR patrol from Multinational Brigade Centre stopped a car at Gate 4 yesterday evening with a live goat strapped to its roof. Not sure whether or not to detain the owner and his goat or to search it for illegal weapons, the goat was handed over to UNMIK-Police who took care of it and sent it on its way. Again this shows the excellent co-operation KFOR enjoys with UNMIK-Police in securing a safe environment for the people of Kosovo.
UNMIK Police Spokesman
International Police Officer Arrested
UNMIK Police have arrested an international police officer stationed in Mitrovica on allegations of sexual assault. He is currently being detained and interviewed. A waiver of immunity has been sought and has been granted for this investigation, which is being conducted by the Mitrovica Regional Investigation Unit. Once the investigation has been carried out, an international prosecutor will evaluate the facts and decide whether to proceed to trial before an international judge.
This is a criminal investigation, not an internal one, and it will be treated accordingly. With that in mind, we must respect the criminal justice system and the requirements of the investigators as they conduct this inquiry. We will not be disclosing further details until that time
Road Safety Campaign
During the first seven months of this year, no less than 115 traffic fatalities have occurred within the province of Kosovo and 985 injuries reported. Most recently, two people were killed needlessly when they were racing their cars through the streets of Urosevac. Another was killed when he tried to overtake other vehicles in traffic and lost control of his vehicle. We cannot stress enough the need of all citizens to show regard not just for the traffic laws, but for their own safety and the safety of others in traffic, especially children. These deaths could have easily been avoided. I have been informed by traffic enforcement officers that the majority of the fatalities that have occurred have involved pedestrians, many of those involving children.
A new program has been in development to educate children of the dangers of road safety conditions within the province and the ways in which they can protect themselves from harm. Funds donated for a road safety campaign are being utilized to provide primary schools with educational material including informational posters and charts to teach children proper road safety. These materials will be given in English, Serbian, and Albanian where appropriate.
A concerted effort between Community Policing Officers and the Kosovo Police Service will send police officers into all the primary schools in Kosovo in order to teach children proper road safety. It is our hope that this initiative will help children avoid needless injury and death in the streets of Kosovo at the hands of reckless drivers.
As part of this initiative, a road safety track has been constructed at the Kosovo Police Service School where children can come and perform practical exercises to reinforce the concepts that they will learn in school.
We invite everyone to attend a presentation on the road safety campaign to be held here on Friday the 24th of August at 10:00.
Weekly Summary of Statistics
This week 1 murder was reported, 9 aggravated assaults, 3 kidnappings, 3 cases of arson, a total of 125 arrests, and of those arrests, ten were for murder, two were for attempted murder, three for grievous assault, three for kidnapping, and three for rape.
Q: The policeman that you mentioned - Is that the case from several weeks ago, but now you brought up the charges?
DO: No, this is a separate case.
Q: Just to clarify on Mitrovica. The group of 80 people - was it the group of K-Serbs or K-Albanians?
HR: I am told it was 60 people there. It was a mixture of the two.
Q: What are you doing to prevent the cause of traffic incidents? Does it mean that you have to work very soon on driving license and to see how many people are driving without a license?
DO: Other than the educational programme - the strict enforcement of traffic regulations. I think I am at a loss, personally I am at a loss, because I have seen some ways that people drive here and I can't believe that anyone with common sense would drag race vehicles through the streets of Kosovo at high speeds, knowing that they would end up killing themselves. Just the other day, as a matter of fact, I saw some vehicle driving like a maniac. He wanted to go around the whole group of vehicles, so what he did was he went into the on-coming traffic and just barely avoided a head on collision. As far as the sources, as far as educating these people, I can't believe that they don't know - they have to know - that this is a suicide.
Q: We are not talking about educating these drivers. Isn't its possible to make more checks on who has the driving license and who does not? Because I think that this is the key issue.
SM: Yes, but there will be driving licenses issued some time in the fall. I don't think that is the issue of what Dean is taking about: when people just believe that their car is their weapon and speed twice the normal speed. It has nothing to do with driver's education. When you have driver's education you learn how to turn the car and how to follow the rules. I think this is a mentality problem.
Q: I am not talking about educating the drivers. About 50% of people who drive the cars do not have driving licenses. This is the first thing that might prevent these incidents and killing of the children. What is UNMIK doing in issuing these documents and take off the traffic those who do not have licenses?
SM: Again, we will be issuing the driving licenses in the fall, but I don't believe this is really the issue here.
Q: What is the nationality of the policeman? What are the reasons for being charged with crime?
DO: We won't be releasing his nationality. All police officers here represent UNMIK police.
We are not going to indite on particular nationality for the actions of an individual.
Q: What is the crime?
DO: Sexual assault is the crime.
Q: To UNMIK: You announced earlier that you were going to issue driving licenses in August. Now you say in the fall. Why do you have this delay?
SM: I don't know. It must be some bureaucratic problem. I don't have an exact month. I believe it is next month, but I don't know what the problem is. I can find out for you.
Q: You told us about the situation in Blace. Could you please explain how is the situation on the other border - Jasince? Who is on the other side of the border - Macedonian guards or UCK people? Are the people going through the border or not?
HR: Sorry, are we talking about the closed border we talked about this morning? I have no details on Jasince border, I am afraid.
Q: Is the border closed or open?
HR: I have no idea. I have no details, but if you come to me afterwards, I'll find out for you.
SM: Our press officer Andrea Angeli has some further details on that.
Q: Two days ago there was a raid in something that is known as a white flat just behind the UN Police building close to the stadium, known as the UNHCR flats. Apparently there were some hand grenades, machine guns and other items found in that raid. It is believed that some international personnel were living there prior to the raid in the flat. Why do these kinds of things do not come out in press briefings? And if you know, who were the occupants of the flat before the raid?
DO: I don't know the details of the particular incident that you are talking about, but I will look into it. If you want to talk to me afterwards, we can. Is to why it is not mentioned, I get hundreds of particular items that, you know, we have to mention. For instance, the road safety campaign was something that has been in development for weeks. That is something to me that takes priority because of the immediate effect on the civilian population. It is not because we are omitting anything. It is just that there are so many items - we have to pick and choose the particular ones that we want to bring to the attention of everyone.
Q: Is KFOR responsible for Kosovo or Macedonia? And if it is responsible for Macedonia, for Macedonian security, are you doing your job here properly?
HR: I slightly misunderstood the question. KFOR has a mandate to keep a safe and secure environment in Kosovo. Supply routes are supply routes and they come from Macedonia. If the route is blocked at some point, then we are heavily reliant on the authorities in Macedonia to provide security for us. And at the moment in time that is the case. We don't see it as a big problem yet, and we are working with the FYROM authorities to make sure that this is resolved fairly quickly. That is all I can say at the moment.
Q: You said that something is wrong with the mentality here in Kosovo. What's wrong with that mentality according to the traffic? Don't you think that you have a problem with the law and order in Kosovo?
SM: We are not talking about the mentality of all people in Kosovo. I am talking about these incredibly macho drivers who are killing people. And as far as the law enforcement, I see police all over the place stopping speeding cars with radar. Many of us in UNMIK have been stopped for all kinds of infractions. So I think that police is trying as hard as it can to do its job. We will be getting more police, at least more KPS in the future. But I think there has to be a selfish mentality amongst certain people. And it's not only in Kosovo. I lived all over the Balkans and I felt it all over the Balkans. We come from the States and everything is very orderly there, and if you murder a child by speeding, the rest of your life is in jail, you know. There is no tolerance for it, though it still happens, of course. But I am talking about the selfish and violent mentality of a few drivers, and they are very obvious to all of us. I think all of us we can see the police on the street. We've all been affected by that. It is not that they are not there. But maybe there aren't enough.
Q: Was the UN policeman arrested by UN police?
Q: Could you tell us what happened with the UN policeman who was suspended in July? I didn't get any new information on this case.
DO: I think that was addressed last week. I don't want to misspeak here. I will look it up, because I know we talked about it last week and I'll get a press release for you. But that investigation was concluded.
Q: Just to follow up on the policeman. Who was assaulted: a man or a woman and of what nationality?
DO: I don't really know yet if the investigators want to release that information.
Q: But I am not asking for a name. Just is it a man or a woman? What nationality?
DO: I can't give you any further details yet. When I can, as this case progresses, we will be open and we'll share the information.
Q: Is it possible that the shooters on the UN police were from Albania?
DO: Is it suspected that they were from Albania, but the suspicion comes from the speech pattern of the people involved. When they were speaking to the police, supposedly the language assistants indicated that their accent, their speech were Albanian-Albanian. But I can't confirm it this time.
Q: Susan, are you very sure that Mr. Haekkerup's security personnel, Mr. Haekkerup's bodyguards did not have any sort of illegal weapons in the house?
SM: No, but I am not sure about Nadia. Nadia lived in that white house, as you know...
No, Mr. Haekkerup does not live in that white house. It's people from UNHCR. OSCE. Nadia Younes used to live there, but I don't think they are well-armed people.
Q: Considering the last attack on KFOR soldiers, these were Serbs and Albanians. That's one of the rare multi-ethnic efforts in Kosovo lately. Does UN have any comment on that?
SM: There are multi-ethnic efforts in smuggling, in trafficking of people. And everyone is mad about the power. I think that cuts also across ethnic lines. So there are some multi-ethnic efforts.