25 March 2007

Schook calls for patience in Babin Most controversy

B92, Belgrade, 10 January 2007 12:33


PRISTINA -- UNMIK deputy chief has rejected accusations that KPS members used excessive force during Babin Most searches.


Steven Schook has rejected Serbian prime minister Vojislav Kostunica's claims that officers of the Kosovo Police Service (KPS) overstepped their powers during the searches they conducted in Babin Most, in the wake of the murder of one of their colleagues.


Schook also called on Serbian officials to show restraint in their reactions until the results of the investigation into the case are known.


"I don't think it is useful for political leaders to make hasty conclusions, I don't think that can be a part of the solution of the problem, nor can it be beneficial for this part of the region. I have asked my interlocutors to wait until the investigation is complete in order to draw any conclusions", Schook said, referring to some Serbian officials' claims that Babin Most events represented an introduction into "another March 17".


Kosovo Serb representative Marko Jaksic, however, doesn't think Vojislav Kostunica's characterization of the KPS action in the Serb community in Babin Most as "an attempt at ethnic cleansing" is out of order. Jaksic says that the Simic household was searched on three separate occasions, that some family members were brutally beaten, while many locals were interrogated.


"In the end, they came up empty handed, while the fact Schook ordered an internal investigation suggest not everything was carried out according to rules and regulations. Serbs here are protected only when Belgrade raises the tone of its voice. When Belgrade keeps quiet, the Albanian side carries on with its work in the dark", Jaksic says.


Meanwhile, deputy KPS commander general Sheramet Ahmeti has apologized to Babin Most residents for any inconvenience they might have suffered as a result of the police investigation of the murder of Avni Kasumi.


Obilic municipality coordinator Mirce Jakoviljevic says the Serbs in Babin Most expect general Ahmeti and regional KPS and UNMIK chiefs to visit their village.


He added that while the residents understood the police had to their job investigating an officer's murder, they could not understand the need to search their homes, arrest their neighbors, demolish furniture and subject people to beatings.