Developments today, 28 February 2000 -
Updated 3:30 p.m. EST
UNMIK police report increased violence against Serbs: UN police in Kosovo today reported an increase in violence against Serbs around the territory, as well as explosions and grenade attacks in Pristina, Gnjilane and Pec. In Gnjilane today, UN officials attended the funeral of Dr. Josip Vasic, shot dead on Saturday in the centre of the town, near the hospital where he worked. He was one of a handful of Serb physicians who had remained in Kosovo and had worked closely with UNMIK, a UN spokeswoman said.
UNMIK police reported an explosion today on the road to Zvecan, some 400 metres north of Mitrovica town, which caused damage to a bus but no injuries to passengers. The police said there was another explosion yesterday evening, most probably caused by a grenade, at a Serb-owned house in Kosovo Polje. A grenade was also thrown into an Albanian-owned grocery store in Orahovac, which caused extensive damage but no casualties.
UNMIK toughens building requirements following major fire: UNMIK said today that new building in the territory would now require a permit, and will involve a "rigorous" fire safety inspection. The decision comes after a blaze destroyed a sports complex in central Pristina and threatened to spread to nearby buildings. Fire fighters and equipment from other parts of Kosovo and KFOR were called in to help local firemen battle the fire that began early Friday evening and was not controlled until midday Saturday. The cause of the fire at the Boro and Ramiz Sports Centre is still being investigated. The head of UNMIK, Dr. Bernard Kouchner, who visited the scene of the fire twice on Saturday, announced an international appeal for funds to help rebuild the complex, which was built in the late 1970s.
Dr. Kouchner said he would consider issuing a regulation on fire safety, but UNMIK's first concern had been on building a fire service from scratch. UNMIK officials warned that many other buildings were at risk due to shoddy construction.
UNMIK team meets on latest strategy for Mitrovica: UNMIK officials headed by the Principal Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Jock Covey, went to Mitrovica yesterday to meet with the region's administrator, Mr. Mario Marcone, and pillar heads to present the latest version of the strategy plan for Mitrovica. A UNMIK spokesperson said today the plan will also be presented to a leader of the Serb National Council, Mr. Oliver Ivanovic and the local Kosovo Albanian leader, Mr. Bajram Rexhepi.
More than 400 Kosovo Protection Corps sworn in: The appointment of mid-level Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC) leaders ended last week, with a total of 498 people sworn in, a UNMIK spokesperson said today. This is in addition to the 46 key leaders who were appointed in January. By 1 March, UNMIK expects to finalize the appointment of 5,052 KPC members who will be hired on the same status, pending a decision in April on who will be an active member and who will be an auxiliary member. It is planned to have 3,000 active members and 2,000 auxiliary members.
Over 60 judicial officers to be sworn on Tuesday: Forty-three judges, eight prosecutors and 26 lay judges will be sworn in tomorrow to serve in the Mitrovica region, a UNMIK spokesperson said today. The judges include 35 Albanians and 16 minorities, mainly Serbs and Bosniacs. This is the last part of the phase of judicial appointments UNMIK began in January when more than 300 judges, prosecutors and lay judges were appointed for posting around Kosovo.
For further information, contact the Spokesman's Office: tel (212) 963-7161/2; fax (212) 963-7055.