Published on Tuesday, March 14, 2000 in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
U.N. Police Corps in Kosovo Accused of Killings, Abuses
by John Sweeney and Jens Holsoe - London Observer
London -- A confidential report written for U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Anna charges the U.N.'s own Kosovo Protection Corps with murder, torture and extortion.

The KPC is accused in the document, dated Feb. 29, of "criminal activities . . . killings, ill-treatment (and) torture, illegal policing, abuse of authority, intimidation, breaches of political neutrality and hate-speech."

The 5,000-strong corps, funded by U.N. member states, was set up to provide "disaster response services." Instead, says the report, it has killed and tortured people.

The criminal activities are fresh evidence of the failure of U.N. Special Representative Bernard Kouchner to establish the rule of law in Kosovo, the report says.

Many members of the corps were recruited from the Kosovo Liberation Army, set up to meet the violence of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's Serb police with counterviolence. NATO's intervention last June saw the departure of armed Serbs from Kosovo, but violence by ethnic Albanian extremists has not stopped, the report says. The grim message to the U.N. secretary-general is that his own organization is paying the salaries of many of the offenders.

The report covers only the period from Jan. 21, when the corps formally came into being. Under the heading "killings," the report says, "Dragash: Two members of the KPC and three others were arrested by U.N. police in connection with the killing of an ethnic Gorani (minority member), (Feb. 11)."

There are three charges of ill-treatment and torture:

In Pec, a man was beaten senseless in the KPC's headquarters. The victim had been the subject of an attack in a newspaper article, written by a former KLA fighter.

In Prizren, a man from the Torbesh minority --- a group of Muslim Turks --- was kidnapped and beaten by a KPC member and three other men.

Also in Prizren, the KPC is accused of using torture to obtain confessions from two men arrested on suspicion of stealing cars.

The KPC is not a police force, but one of the concerns raised by the U.N. report, drawn up by Kouchner's own office, is that members of the KPC act as if they were above the law. The report lists complaints from U.N. police working for its mission in Kosovo.

The KPC has been running protection rackets across Kosovo --- in Pristina, Suva Reka, Dragash, Istok and Prizren --- demanding "contributions" from shopkeepers, businessmen and contractors, the report says. In Suva Reka, KPC members are alleged to have forced gas stations to accept coupons rather than money.

In Vucitrn, the KPC reportedly demanded protection money from members of an ethnic minority, the Ashkali, originally from India. The KPC also may be running prostitution rackets, the report says.

The KPC is led by Gen. Agim Ceku, who has pledged not to tolerate criminal behavior by KPC members, but Ceku, formerly a senior commander in the KLA, comes in for personal criticism in the report.

2000 Cox Interactive Media