26 prill 2023
Police contradictions after the injury in the north of Kosova
*Prepared by: Ridona Berisha
On the evening of April 10th, near the Bistrica bridge, on the Leposaviq-Zveçan highway, M.J. from Zveçan, a taxi driver, was injured. According to initial reports, mainly from the Serbian media, he was injured by a member of the special unit of the Kosovo Police (KP), near the checkpoint established in December 2022.
After the publication of the news by: Kosovo Online and Kossev regarding the injury, KP has changed their statements twice within the day. Initially, they denied injuring the citizen, saying in the press release that the KP was not involved in any cases of shootings against a certain group or person.
Police statement change
Only two hours later, the KP debunked itself through another press release, in which they emphasized that "as a result of continuous investigations and engagements of police units at the scene, as well as, as a result of the examination of the evidence provided, it has been possible to obtain evidence that shows the suspicions of the possible involvement of a police officer in the shooting".
The police blamed its members for not reporting the case, although the area is monitored by security cameras. However, the KP has suspended the police officer "since he had not reported the case, and his involvement in the case, from which the KP had issued a notice that they were not involved in the shooting".
Regarding the case, the minister of internal affairs, Xhelal Sveçla has given his version of how the injury came to be. According to Sveçla, after the police officer signaled the driver to stop, the driver did not stop but continued in the direction of Zveçan. "After that, a police officer fired a gun at the car, as a result of which the citizen M.J was injured", Sveçla wrote.
According to Arber Beka from the Police Inspectorate of Kosovo (IPK), investigators have submitted a criminal complaint to the Basic Prosecutor's Office in Mitrovica. "At this stage of the investigation, it is too early to talk about the motive for the potential concealment of the reporting of the case," he said.
30 days of detention against the policeman who fired
Meanwhile, on April 13th, the Basic Court in Mitrovica, following the request of the Basic Prosecution of Mitrovica, assigned 30 days of detention to the suspected policeman, while the other three are under house arrest. "One of the police officers is suspected of having committed the criminal offense of 'attempted murder' and tampering with evidence, while the other three police officers are suspected of having committed the criminal offense of "failure to report a criminal offence", reported Betimi për Drejtësi.
The police are criticized for lack of professionalism
After the contradictory statements of the Police and the attempt not to report the injury by the policemen, the American Ambassador Jeff Hovenier also responded with critical tones, as he rarely does, towards KP. He has expressed concern about the initial denial of the KP, while also demanding credible investigations.
UNMIK and KFOR also responded, asking the local institutions to carry out a full investigation of the events and bring those responsible to justice. While EULEX has warned of increasing the presence of reserve forces to patrol in North Mitrovica, Zveçan, Leposaviq and Zubin Potok.
The urgency of the KP to deny the involvement of its officials without conducting any preliminary investigation has also been condemned by the YIHR KS, calling on all relevant institutions to bring justice in this case.
On the other hand, Serbian officials have linked the injury with the claim that there is a state plan to intimidate and expel Serbs from Kosova. They have also repeated the request for the removal of the KP from the north populated by Serb majority, although the KP has a mandate to provide security in the entire territory of the country.
The so-called director of the "Office for Kosovo and Metohija", Petar Petkovic, has blamed Albin Kurti, saying that he aims to destabilize the situation. "Kurti doesn't want peace, he doesn't want to implement anything that has been agreed upon," Petkovic emphasized.
Meanwhile, the Director of the Forum for Ethnic Relations, Dushan Janjiq, considers the presence of special forces in the north to be the source of new incidents.
After the incident, on April 12, the Serbs marched to Bistrica Bridge, and started a petition with the request for the removal of the special forces from the north.
Meanwhile, the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, in a meeting in Rashkë gathered the Serbian politicians of Kosova, where he presented five conclusions, referring to the latest developments in that part.
Despite the agreement reached in Ohrid between Kosova and Serbia, after which there were calls to avoid incidents in the north, they continue to happen. On the eve of the extraordinary elections for mayors, which are planned to be held on April 23, some cars of citizens who converted their license plates to RKS were burned.
The Serbian List did not apply to participate in these elections. In the meeting with Vučić, the participation was conditioned with the formation of the Association of Municipalities with a Serbian Majority.
*This article is published as part of the Western Balkans Regional Initiative against disinformation.
26 prill 2023