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Summary of Press Briefing by UNMIK Spokesperson 16 Feb 2000

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UNMIK Spokeswoman Ms Nadia Younes
Mitrovica

As part of the implementation of the emergency measures for Mitrovica, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Bernard Kouchner, last night signed into law UNMIK regulation 6 of the year 2000, on the "Appointment and Removal from Office of International Judges and International Prosecutors". The regulation is available outside the briefing room, along with copies of the package of emergency measures proposed last week, which have now been finalized.

The regulation on the appointment of international judges and prosecutors specifies that "such appointments shall be made to the District Court of Mitrovica, other courts within the territorial jurisdiction of the District Court of Mitrovica and offices of the prosecutor with corresponding jurisdiction"

The ability to appoint international judges and prosecutors quickly to the Mitrovica judiciary is part of the package that I was referring to.

Last night, the first international judge was appointed. He is Mr. Christer Karphammar from Sweden, and he will serve on the District Court of Mitrovica. He was sworn into office last night by Bernard Kouchner. Mr. Karphammar, who left today for Mitrovica, has been the deputy head of the Prosecution Services and Court Administration Section of UNMIK's Department of Judicial Affairs. We would like to note that as a judge in Mitrovica, Mr. Karphammar will be fully independent and not subject to instructions from anyone. International judges and prosecutors will work alongside their Kosovar counterparts in Mitrovica.

Yesterday Dr. Kouchner was in Gracanica, where he briefed the Serb National Council on the new emergency measures for Mitrovica. He met with Bishop Artemije as well as Trajkovic'leaders of the Serb National Council. Bishop Artemije and Mr. Trajkovic voiced their endorsement of the plan.

The special measures also called for a rapid new deployment of UNMIK Police to Mitrovica. A total of approximately 300 additional police officers are expected. Once they are fully deployed, that will bring the total number in the Mitrovica region - consisting of six municipalities - to 566. Of the new officers, around 107 will be re-assigned from other parts of Kosovo; 11 from the Main Headquarters; 21 from the Pristina region; 20 from Prizren; 18 from Gnjilane; 27 from Peja and 10 from the border police. This first group, which has already started to deploy, should be in place by 19 February. Another 195 police officers will be selected from new officers arriving in mission now from eight different countries. That second group should be in place in Mitrovica by 26 February. All additional officers should be in place by the end of February.

The UNMIK Police arriving now will be conducting joint foot patrols and checkpoints with KFOR. KFOR maintains tactical supremacy in Mitrovica, that is to say that KFOR remains responsible for the overall security. UNMIK Police will carry out investigative duties and assist KFOR in maintaining law and order.

In further implementation of the police re-deployment, Dr. Kouchner has appointed a new regional police commissioner for Mitrovica, Mr. Sven Erik Larsen of Denmark. His headquarters will be located within the headquarters of the KFOR commander in Mitrovica, General Saqui de Sannes, to ensure total coordination of the operations of UNMIK and KFOR. Commissioner Larsen's deputy for operations is Bob Richards of the United States.

You will notice that in addition to the measures designed to re-establish security in Mitrovica, the package of measures includes medium- and longer-term strategies to build conditions for peaceful co-existence in the political, humanitarian, administrative and economic fields.

Kosovo Transitional Council

The Kosovo Transitional Council is meeting this morning. They are discussing the security situation in Mitrovica, as well as preparations for elections and registration. An update on the situation of prisoners in Serbia and missing persons is also on the agenda of the KTC this morning.

Quint briefing

Also today, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General is in a meeting with the so-called Quint. The political directors have come from the US, the UK, France Germany and Italy to be briefed by Dr. Kouchner and his team on the situation in Kosovo.

IAC

The Interim Administrative Council at its regular meeting yesterday discussed pending regulations on the registration of political parties, the Central Civil Registry and the Central Election Commission. They also discussed the situation in Mitrovic and named the co-heads for the administrative Department of Public Services. The two co-heads are Mr. Behxhet Brajshori of the LDK and Mr. Peter Schumann, deputy director of UNMIK's Administrative and Support Services. There is a press release outside on that meeting.

Fire Chiefs

The second conference of Kosovo Fire Chiefs will take place on Friday at 11 a.m. at the Obilic fire station. Fire Chiefs from the 16 fire districts are expected to attend, 4 of whom are Serb. The firefighters will be discussing their problems and successes, and more specifically cases such as the fire on 13 February in Peja, which claimed the lives of an entire family - mother, father and daughter. The three died after a candle, which was left unattended on a set of stairs, went out of control and caused a fire spreading across the flat. The stairs had been the family's only means of escape and they died while trapped upstairs in their flat.

For more information on the conference or on the state of the fire fighting force in Kosovo, please contact UNMIK Fire Chief Bob Triozzi in the old UNMIK headquarters, in Room 312 or at extension 4149.

Power

Regarding the power situation, things should improve by tomorrow when Kosovo B's Unit 1 is expected to be back on line after repairs of various tube and steam leaks. However, as of this morning, the only units operating were 4 and 5 of Kosovo A, producing a total of 180 megawatts. Imports are coming from Serbia: 60 megawatts, and Albania: 50 megawatts. The regime of power cuts has been set at two hours on, six hours off.

An agreement should be signed in the very near future between the KEK and the Water Supply Company to avoid major cuts in water supply such as we have been experiencing recently.

Also the next priority in ensuring an ongoing power supply will be repairs to the 400 kilovolt line going north through Serbia and connecting to the eastern European grid.

RTK studio

I have an announcement from the OSCE for this evening. The press are invited to the opening of the new RTK studios. They will open their new television studios tonight. SRSG Kouchner is expected to attend. The OSCE Head of Mission Ambassador Daan Everts will give a policy speech on UNMIK/OSCE's media development. That speech will be made at a reception at the old TV Pristina building. That's at 7.30 p.m. tonight. Ambassador Evert's speech will be available to the press in advance with an embargo for publication by 7.30 p.m.

KFOR Spokeswoman Lieutenant-Colonel Henning Philipp

Just a short update on Mitrovica. Yesterday while KFOR soldiers patrolled the streets of Mitrovica everyone respected the call for law and order. Some 300 people gathered in the stadium in the south part of the city and 200 near the Western Bridge in the north. Last night there were no incidents of unrest on the streets. The curfew reamins in effect. KFOR patrols will continue to be very visible and are alert to any unrest or crime. Their main task is to restore the confidenve among the vast majority of citizens who are demanding peace and a normal life.

Another issue. Yesterday four buses, forming what has been dubbed the Nis Express, traveled from Gate 3, near the town of Podujevo, to Gracanica. KFOR provides a robust escort for that bus and this time it was not stoned. KFOR prevented the stoning; they detained five young guys who were preparing to throw stones. This time the bus remained unharmed and we do hope that it remians so in the future.

Questions

Q: Is it still your position that the Greeks should replace British troops on the main Mitrovica bridge today? That's what the General said last night.

PH: I'm not aware of that, but if he said it, it might be true. I will come back to you.

Q: What happened to the former police commissioner of Mitrovica? Has he been formally replaced after the recent trouble? Can you tell us how many people are currently under arrest in connection with Sunday's events?

NY: On the first question, Mr. Philip Mailhes has been appointed assistant Deputy Commissioner for Administration here at headquarters. This, as far as I understand, is a promotion. He's now back in Pristina at headquarters.

PH: I don't have the exact number of people who remain under arrest right now. No new figures compared with those you got yesterday evening.

Q: Have you come any closer to identifying the ethnicity of the man or men who shot the two French soldiers? And how is the investigation proceeding generally? Have you identified any shooters? Are you close to formalizing charges against any of those who are detained?

PH: We are process of collecting information. The investigation is not closed. I would not like to speculate about any results right now.

Q: What laws will the judges in Mitrovica be using? Why is UNMIK bringing in judges from abroad when there have been judges appointed in Kosovo?

NY: On your first question, the applicable law will be the law with which the international judges will adjudicate. As you know we recently issued a regulation about the applicable law, which involves the set of regulations promulgated buy the SRGSG and the law which applied in Kosovo prior to 1989. That's what they will apply. On the second question, there was ajudicial vacuum in Mitrovica, which is why the decision was made to appoint international judges, who will be working alongside the Kosovar judges. In the series of appointments of judges that were made recently, the Mitrovica judges were not appointed. There were still discussions going on. And that is why we felt it was important that we kick-start the judicial system in Mitrovica.

Q: What do you mean by calling the new security measures for Mitrovica extraordinary? Does it mean the situation is extraordinary? Secondly, who is going to be and who is going to appoint the new special envoy or administrator for Mitrovica and the Trepca manager?

NY: Obviously, these are special measures that have been agreed upon in the IAC, we passed them by the Serb leadership yesterday and got their agreement. They are destined to reinforce the security in Mitrovica, which is the first step towards calming the tensions in the area. On the question of the two appointments, Dr. Kouchner - who will be doing the appointing - is now consulting and identifying the most appropriate appointees.

PH: I think it was an extraordinary situation in Mitrovica and it needs some strong measures. You can call them extraordinary measures.

Q: The latest from the French PIO in Mitrovica yesterday was that there were three snipers injured of whom one had died and two were injured. They said they would have been taken to the Moroccan hospital. The Moroccan hospital staff said that one person was admitted with gunshot wounds and he later died. He's apparently buried. No other people admitted had gunshot wounds. Can you tell us in which hospital the two wounded snipers are?

PH: I need to come back to you when the investigation is finished.

Q: The director of the Moroccan hospital said they never admitted two people with gunshot wounds. They admitted one person who was dead on admittance. We're curious to know if there were any other snipers identified or shot by the French.

PH: I understand that you are very curious. I am also curious to have the final results, which will be available once they close the investigation.

Q: There are rumors that the man who was wounded and later died was not evacuated to the hospital by KFOR, but rather by civilians.

PH: I am not going to discuss rumours. As I said, please wait until we have the results.

Q: Do you know why the people who were arrested are still being held?

PH: All those people were arrested because they were suspected to be involved in the sniper activities, in stone throwing, in illegally carrying weapons.

Q: Are you aware that a lot of the arrested people are women and children?

PH: That may be. I'm not aware of that. Women can also carry weapons.

Q: According to your package, there will be some restricted areas and restricted entrance to Mitrovica after the measures will be implemented. Will this apply to the press?

PH: The reporters still have free access to wherever they want to go; however, there may be some operational reasons to restrict access. But right now that's not in effect for Mitrovica.