"March violence left mark on Kosovo Serbs"

Oliver Ivanović spoke on the anniversary of the March pogrom against Serbs in the province to say the violence left a big mark on the Serb community in Kosovo.

Source: Tanjug

The outburst of violence in 2004 brought with itself the feeling of uncertainty among Serbs in this region, and it proved that due to the unprincipled attitude of the international community, Serbs could rely only on their own selves and the Republic of Serbia, the Ministry for Kosovo official told Tanjug.

He recalled that NATO troops, KFOR, had failed to protect the Serbs in the enclaves.

"What worries most that the international community failed to react adequately in those difficult moments and that this increased even more the Serbs' mistrust in the international community," Ivanović said.

In the wave of violence on March 17 and 18 in 2004, around 19 individuals were murdered, eight of them Serbs and 11 Albanians, and over 4,000 Serbs and other non-Albanians were expelled.

Around 900 houses and 35 churches and monasteries of the Serbian Orthodox Church were set on fire, including medieval holy sites such as the Church of Our Lady of Ljeviš in Prizren which dates back to the 14th century.

A total of 954 individuals were wounded, including dozens of members of international troops, and 72 UN vehicles were destroyed.

Six cities and nine villages were ethnically cleansed, while the Devič Monastery near Srbica was burnt down. A number of cemeteries in Kosovo and Metohija were desecrated and a great number of valuable icons and other church relics were either damaged or disappeared.

The pogrom was triggered by the campaign conducted by Albanian media according to which Kosovo Serbs and their dogs chased six Albanian boys from the village of Čabar near Zubin Potok across the Ibar River, and three of them died in the incident.

A subsequent investigation launched by the UN mission (UNMIK) police established that these accusations spread by the media were false.

"16 persons found guilty"

The EU mission in Kosovo, EULEX, has announced that 16 persons were found guilty of violence that broke out on March 17, 2004 in Kosovo, while one person had been acquitted.

EULEX spokeswoman Irina Gudeljević told Tanjug that UNMIK handed over to EULEX judges six cases related to the March incidents, on which they had been working at the Kosovo Supreme Court.

“All six cases have been completed, and 13 people found guilty and sentenced to prison,” she said.

Moreover, EULEX judges at the District Court in Prizren completed three cases. In two cases the suspects were convicted, whereas in the third one the suspect was found not guilty on all counts of the indictment.

“In the meantime, EULEX prosecutors have been dealing with another case related to the incidents that took place in 2004. The indictment has been confirmed and the trial is pending,” the EULEX spokeswoman explained.

Ethnic Albanians targeted Serbs and their property in the March 2004 violence.

Crime

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