CEOL - OSCE Calls For KLA Probe Amid Kosovo Violence

PRISTINA, Dec 7, 1999 -- (Reuters) One of the main international organizations in Kosovo called on Monday for a probe into the alleged role of Kosovo's former guerrilla movement in continuing violence in the province.

Presenting the first major official human rights survey on Kosovo, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said ethnic violence did not end with the withdrawal of Serbian forces in June, although it was on a much smaller scale.

The second of two OSCE reports, covering the period since June when NATO-led international peacekeepers deployed, cited numerous witness accounts of alleged involvement by members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in human rights violations.

OSCE officials stressed that one should not compare them with the campaign of terror by Serb forces that preceded the NATO deployment, but that there were indications they, too, had been at least partially organized.

"What we talk about in this second report is again a wave of human rights violations but more individualized, although there are clear hints of degrees of organization behind the actual violence," said OSCE human rights director Gerard Stoudmann.

The KLA, which waged a 15-month guerrilla campaign against Serb rule before 78 days of NATO air strikes forced Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to withdraw his forces from Kosovo, was formally disbanded following the withdrawal.

The issue of whether it is either tacitly or overtly encouraging violence and intimidation of Serbs who remained in Kosovo and Albanians viewed as traitors is one of the most sensitive issues in post-war Kosovo.

The international community is anxious to stamp out the violence, which threatens to turn from revenge attacks on ethnic minorities into intimidation of dissident elements of the majority ethnic Albanian population of Kosovo.

But it is also keen to avoid alienating the former guerrillas, who have considerable influence in local communities and hold a number of weapons, despite formally disarming.

OSCE questions KLA denials

Daan Everts, head of the 54-nation OSCE's mission in Kosovo, noted leaders of the former KLA, transformed into a provisional Kosovo Protection Corps (TMK), had distanced themselves from the wave of violence against Serbs after their forces withdrew.

"Despite such denials, it seems clear that the extent of KLA, and now provisional TMK, involvement is of such a nature and scope that the question of explicit or tacit involvement by the leadership requires close examination by the international community," he said.

Zivorad Igic, the Kosovo Serb representative on the main board of Milosevic's ruling Socialist party, was quoted as telling the Politika daily that 500 non-Albanians had been killed, 700 kidnapped and more than 300,000 had fled.

Western officials say thousands of ethnic Albanians were killed by Serb forces during the 11-week NATO air war, and that more than 800,000 were driven out from the province.

Everts said more support was needed for international police as well as local police and courts to break the cycle of violence. The U.N.-led administration in Kosovo has asked for 6,000 international police. Only 1,700 have been sent so far.

"Apparently member states, U.N, NATO...or the OSCE are more easily mobilized for war than peace," Evert said. "That's a very sad comment, but...I hope the publications we are presenting today will shock public opinion and international policy makers," he added.

In a statement on the OSCE report, British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said the international community's job in Kosovo would be much easier if the Kosovo Albanian leadership "exercised responsibility and took seriously its obligations to build a peaceful, multi-ethnic and tolerant society."

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