MEMLI KRASNIQIPeacekeepers transfer Serb prisoner out of hospital
PRISTINA, Yugoslavia (June 8, 2000) - NATO-led peacekeepers transferred a Serb prisoner from a hospital in the monastery town of Gracanica before dawn Thursday, a move apparently aimed at preventing further demonstrations for his release.
In other developments, U.N. police Thursday detonated a bomb found under a car in front of the main police station. U.N. police said the bomb contained two pounds of plastic explosives and could have killed anyone within a 30-50 foot radius.
The NATO-led peacekeepers also said a Russian soldier was attacked and beaten by five Albanian men Wednesday evening while he was on patrol in the western city of Pec. The soldier's weapon was also taken, the peacekeeper command said in a statement.
The Serb prisoner was hospitalized after a riot Tuesday in the Serb enclave of Gracanica, five miles south of Pristina. He was detained for allegedly trying to shoot a British general who had waded into a crowd to calm tensions after a grenade attack.
Hundreds of Serbs crowded around the hospital to demand the suspect's release.
Fearing further demonstrations, peacekeepers removed the man from the hospital at 2:45 a.m. and took him to an undisclosed location, where he will continue to receive treatment for his wounds, said Maj. Damien Plant, a spokesman for the British forces.
In Belgrade, the independent Beta news agency said the prisoner, Nebojsa Stojanovic, was in the intensive care unit of Gracanica hospital when British soldiers broke into the building. Swedish troops were reportedly guarding the hospital grounds.
Beta also said that Stojanovic was transferred to a NATO hospital in nearby Kosovo Polje.
The agency quoted local Serb surgeon Dragan Peric, as saying the armed British soldiers behaved "rudely and violently," ordering the medical staff to remain inside one room while they took the patient away. The local Serb council demanded NATO peacekeepers "free their patient" and apologize.
British troop representatives later met with Gracanica Serbs to assure them that Stojanovic was transferred for "security reasons" and that his case would be handled correctly, Beta reported.
According to Beta, NATO troops Wednesday arrested another Kosovo Serb in Gracanica, Dragan Zelenovic, in connection with the riot there.
Tensions in Gracanica have risen after a surge of attacks which Serbs believe is a campaign by ethnic Albanians to drive them out of Kosovo. Many Serbs blame the peacekeepers for failing to stop the attacks.
Along Kosovo's boundary with Serbia, five Serb policemen were wounded Thursday in a land mine explosion, an independent news agency reported. A police car patrolling near Konculj ran over the land mine, the Belgrade-based Beta news agency reported, quoting government sources.