EP rapporteur wants ethnic Albanian freed

BRUSSELS -- Members of the European Parliament Edvard Kukan and Jelko Kacin have expressed their concern over the arrest of Kosovo Albanian Hasan Abazi.

Jelko Kacin (Tanjug, file)
Jelko Kacin (Tanjug, file)

The two MEPs have sent a letter to Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Cvetković, calling for his release.

In their opinion, Abazi's arrest causes great concern about the independence of state institutions and rule of law in Serbia.

Abazi was arrested on March 28 at the Končulj checkpoint on the administrative line with Kosovo, together with Adem Urseli, and the court in Vranje remanded him in custody for 30 days. He was arrested on a warrant for espionage issued by the Belgrade police administration in 2005.

According to Belgrade media, Abazi is the father of the Rockefeller Foundation director for the Western Balkans, and Serbia's Interior Minister Ivica Dačić has confirmed that he received "calls from across the world asking him how Serbia dared to arrest him."

In the letter which was also addressed to Dačić and Justice Minister Snežana Malović, Kukan and Kacin claim that Abazi was illegally detained for the first 48 hours and denied access to a lawyer or family members.

The two MEPs also expressed regret over the retaliatory measures cited by Serbian officials following the arrest, which was allegedly a response to the arrest of five Serbs in Kosovo on March 28.

“Your government bears the responsibility not only for the protection of basic human rights of all Serbian citizens, but also all those passing through its territory,” Kukan and Kacin said in the letter.

“As someone who supports Serbia's aspirations to become an EU member country, we must stress it is of the greatest importance to implement the agreements reached in the dialogue between Belgrade and Priština, including freedom of movement. Abazi's arrest is a step in the wrong direction,” reads the letter.