CEOL
UN shuts down Kosovo newspaper

PRISTINA, Jun 3, 2000 -- (Reuters) Police closed down the offices of a Kosovo Albanian newspaper on Saturday on the orders of the province's top United Nations official, who said the paper was putting people at risk from vigilante violence.

The UN ordered the daily Dita to be shut for eight days because of an article it published in April accusing a local UN staff member of having been a Serb paramilitary. The man was found stabbed to death less than two weeks later.

Three police units backed up by soldiers from the NATO-led KFOR peacekeeping force moved into the newspaper's office early on Saturday morning, a UN spokeswoman said.

Reporters were not allowed to enter the building in the capital Pristina which houses Dita's offices. Italian carabinieri special police and British soldiers stood guard.

The police were acting on an order by Bernard Kouchner, the head of Kosovo's UN administration.

The administration said the article had put the life of Petar Topoljski at risk from vigilante violence, "particularly by the inclusion of personal details in the article including his name, family details, place of work and movements".

The paper had also pledged to continue to publish such articles, putting more people at risk, the order said.

U.N. spokeswoman Susan Manuel called Saturday's operation "a move to make a point that this sort of thing isn't tolerable any more".

Police have not said they have any evidence that the publication of the article led directly to Topoljski's death. But some international officials considered the publication of the article to be like issuing a death warrant.



Original article