Albanian Daily News
Apology to Thaci

Albanian Economic Tribune - Jan 12, 2000

PRISHTINA - Kosovo’s western administrators apologised to former rebel leader Hashim Thaci mid a series of run-ins with his family and staff as Thaci’s own party accused them Saturday of "anti-democratic" behaviour.

Bernard Kouchner, head of the United Nations civil administration here (UNMIK), and the head of the NATO-led peacekeeping force KFOR, General Klaus Reinhardt, apologised Friday for "any inconvenience... to Mr Thaci, his family or party," a joint UNMIK-KFOR statement said.

UNMIK police entered the garden of Thaci’s Prishtina home late Thursday, an UNMIK spokeswoman said, although officials could not immediately explain why.

The incident came a day after one of Thaci’s bodyguards was arrested and two days after his brother’s apartment was raided and half a million dollars’ worth of various currencies were confiscated. Thaci’s party, the PPDK, accused western security forces of trying to enter its headquarters the same day the bodyguard was detained.

Kouchner and Reinhardt denied any link between the events and "reassured Mr Thaci that neither he, his family nor his party are subject to any particular investigation by the international authorities in Kosovo."

But the statement said an investigation was underway into the series of incidents surrounding the key local leader. It said "if any incorrect behaviour by the international security authorities is discovered, appropriate measures will be taken."

One western official said Thaci had been "furious" at the three incidents within three days and had "threatened to quit political life." Kouchner and Reinhardt "reassured" Thaci of the importance of his participation in the joint administrative council between UNMIK and local political leaders set up last month, the statement added.

The statement came as Thaci’s party blasted western authorities for "improper behaviour," saying the "grave, irresponsible, anti-PPDK and anti-democratic acts," including the alleged raid on its offices, "lead toward the destabilisation of law and public order."

It said the events "raised questions about the serious and sincere cooperation" between UNMIK and Thaci’s party, in a statement carried by the local press Saturday.

Thaci’s brother Gani was briefly detained Tuesday for illegal possession of a weapon after firing a shot from his balcony in Prishtina during New Years festivities, officials said.

The bodyguard was arrested Wednesday in a routine search of bar after failing to produce a valid weapons permit. He was later released after confirmation that his permit was being renewed by KFOR.

Thaci was the political head of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) which fought Belgrade for independence before NATO’s three-month air campaign halted Serbian oppression of ethnic Albanians in June last year. He is also self-appointed prime minister of a "provisional government" and one of three local leaders in Kosovo’s joint administration.

[URL may be different next day if article is archived]