Kouchner swears in 102 judges: SRSG Bernard Kouchner swore in today 102 judges and prosecutors, as well as 35 lay judges, to the Pristina judiciary system. The officials are among more than 300 who are being appointed around Kosovo. Recommended by the Advisory Judicial Commission and screened by UNMIK legal experts, they were appointed by Dr. Kouchner for one-year renewable terms. Judicial appointments in Mitrovica are scheduled for 15 February.
Kosovo's first commercial bank in post-conflict period opens: Kosovo's first commercial bank in the post-conflict period -- the Micro-enterprise Bank -- opened today in a ceremony in Pristina, UNMIK spokeswoman Susan Manuel said today. Branches of the bank are expected to open in the next several weeks in Prizren and Pec.
Kosovo's power plant unit to go down for repairs: One of Kosovo power plants -- Kosovo A -- is shutting down one of its units for repairs for 10 days but there are no immediate plans to re-institute power rationing, UNMIK said today. Kosovo is generating 435 megawatts of electricity and importing 20 from Albania and 40 from Serbia. On Friday, the SRSG's political advisor, Klaus Bonneman met with officials in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, including the Foreign Minister and Chief of Cabinet of the President. They discussed power supply and how to increase imports of Macedonian and Greek power through Macedonia. There will be a meeting on Wednesday between Pillar IV officials (EU) and Macedonian officials to continue these discussions. This week, UNMIK released 2 million deutsche marks (about $1 million) of the 22.7 million deutsche marks (about $12 million) in the Kosovo Budget earmarked for the power sector. The money will be used by the Kosovo Power Company (KEK) to pay December stipends to its workers.
Kouchner meets local Serbian and Albanian leaders: SRSG Bernard Kouchner on Saturday visited Orahova/Rahovec and Velica Hoca where he met with local Serb and Albanian leaders. KFOR Commander General Klaus Reinhardt, Bishop Artemije and Momcilo Trajkovoic accompanied him. In Velica Hoca, Serbian leaders briefed him about their security concerns and the need for more freedom of movement for Serbs living in enclaves in the area and improving basic services, including utilities, water, health care and education. In Orahovac/Rahovec, he discussed with Albanian leaders ways to revitalize the economy, improve utilities and reconstruct houses, 20 per cent of which were destroyed in the war. Orahovac/Rahovec has a population of 65,000, of which 43,000 are rural and 22,000 urban. Albanians make up more than 97 of the population, Serbs 2 per cent and the rest are Roman. "The conditions here are not good and we must improve them," Dr. Kouchner told Serbs in Orahovac/Rahovec. "Kosovo is for all the communities living here. They must all enjoy a future of freedom and a good life."
UNMIK Police reports increased crime: UNMIK Police reported today that, in general, crime increased this week while major offences decreased, UNMIK reported today. There were seven murders committed in Kosovo compared to eight last week. Five people, four Serbs and one Albanian, were murdered in the Gnjilane region and two Albanians were murdered in the Pristina area. There were no kidnappings reported. Arsons decreased slightly, with 13 cases reported this week compared to 19 last week. There was no looting reported for the sixth consecutive week. But there was a large increase in weapons violations, with 40 cases this week compared to 19 last week. Pristina region is responsible for just over 40 per cent of the crime activity, followed by Prizren and Gnjilane. There were 1,034 serious offences reported since the beginning of the year and there is a five per cent a week increase in overall criminal activity since the beginning of the year. A total of 204 arrests were made during the past week, including one for murder, two for attempted murder, three for aggravated assault, one for rape and two for arson.
Yesterday, police arrested an Albanian male suspected of stabbing three Serbian males during a fight in a bar in Obilic. Also in Obilic, a house owned by a Serb was set on fire yesterday by an unknown suspect.
Repair work scheduled to begin tomorrow on railway tunnel: Repair work is scheduled to begin tomorrow on the Sinji Railway Tunnel located just north of Pristina, KFOR spokesman Lieutenant Commander Philip Anido said today. The main line through the city has been closed for several years because of the blocked tunnel. A civilian company will carry out the work under the supervision of military engineers from the KFOR Italian Railway Engineer Detachment. It will take several months to complete the project.