French peacekeepers accused of blocking UN police probe

PRISTINA, Mar 9, 2000 -- (AFP) UN police said Thursday they were looking into allegations by one of their commanders in Mitrovica that French peacekeepers prevented officers from investigating the scene of grenade attacks.

John Adams, the deputy regional commander for the UN police in Mitrovica, was quoted in media reports as saying that the French troops prevented his officers from gaining access to the site until after dark.

"By that time an excavator had cleared away the debris," Adams was quoted as saying in a wire report.

Adams could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

UN police spokesman Dmitry Kaportsev declined to comment directly on Adam's allegations, saying he was awaiting a report on the incident.

"I wouldn't like to accuse the officer now, without any official documents, just looking at the piece of paper which came out of the Internet," he said.

But he indirectly criticized Adams, the US deputy commander of the UN force in Mitrovica.

"I really condemn any allegation of KFOR being uncooperative with UNMIK police," Kaportsev, a spokesman for the police force of the UN mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).

"We work very closely with KFOR in any region and in Mitrovica in particular," Kaportsev said.

"I would never have said that there was something done on purpose by KFOR to prevent a right investigation going on," Kaportsev said.

Tuesday's attacks in Mitrovica, which took place in the northern, mostly Serb-inhabited part, left 16 French soldiers and 25 civilians wounded.

The northern Kosovo town is divided into Serb and ethnic Albanian communities, and KFOR troops regularly deal with conflicts of differing intensity between the two.

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