GEORGE JAHNKosovo paper reappears after UN ban
PRISTINA, Yugoslavia (June 13, 2000) - An ethnic-Albanian language newspaper temporarily banned by Kosovo's chief U.N. administrator reappeared on Tuesday carrying the same article that led to the ban: a piece the United Nations says contributed to the murder of a Serb employee.
It also said it would continue publishing similar articles and accused unnamed international officials of theft and involvement in prostitution.
The Dita daily, published by a man who used to be an adviser to Kosovo Albanian leader Hashim Thaci, accused a Serb U.N. translator in April of membership in a Serb paramilitary unit that beat, robbed and expelled its neighbors during the crackdown on ethnic Albanians. Two weeks later, he was found stabbed to death.
Chief U.N. administrator Bernard Kouchner imposed an eight-day ban on publication last week, leading to widespread debate on whether the move was justified or represented a case of curbing free media expression.
Newspaper executives said at the time they stood behind the story, based on unnamed sources. Chief editor Blerim Savileci said Tuesday that Dita has started court proceedings against the U.N. administration, seeking $489,000 in damages for the period the paper was forced to suspend publication.
In a defiant front-page editorial, publisher Belul Beqaj said his paper would not change its editorial policies.
"We will continue to publish the names of all of those for whom we have evidence that were involved in committing of crimes," Beqaj said. He also said Dita would print the names of international officials in Kosovo to help run the province "who are behind prostitution and even steal humanitarian aid."
U.N. spokeswoman Susan Manuel confirmed the daily had appeared legally.
"It is tasteless," she said of the reprint. "But what we are (more) worried about are threats to the living." She said she had not heard about the damages suit, "but I'm sure we will be able to fight" any such legal action.