Kouchner to tour world on behalf of Albanian detainees

PRISTINA, May 25, 2000 -- (AFP) Bernard Kouchner, United Nations administrator in Kosovo, will tour the world on behalf of ethnic Albanian Kosovars jailed in Serbia, his press service said Wednesday.

The official, accompanied by representatives of families affected, would also make enquiry concerning missing ethnic Albanians from Kosovo, a statement said.

Speaking in the Kosovo town of Djakovica to families of prisoners sentenced in Serbia this week for terrorism, Kouchner said: "I will prepare a large tour all over the world, mainly in Europe, with you people representatives of Djakovica and associations of missing people and detainees, to address the nations."

Kouchner joined a chorus of international protest Tuesday over a Serbian court sentencing 143 Kosovo Albanians to long jail terms on terrorism charges.

Describing the trial as a "farce," Kouchner said he could clearly see the hand of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, who was seeking to provoke trouble in Kosovo.

"(Milosevic) clearly reveals his true aims," Kouchner said. "To fuel the fire of hatred and division and to destroy the peace we've so painstakingly secured."

He appealed to ethnic Kosovars: "We want to humbly ask you not to react to this provocation."

The district court in the southern Serbian town of Nis on Monday jailed 143 Kosovo Albanians to terms of between seven and 13 years on terrorism charges.

The court handed down sentences totaling 1,632 years for what it said was their part in attacks against government forces during the 1999 NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia.

Original article