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UN efforts in Kosovo show no one 'above the law,' Security Council told

UN efforts in Kosovo show no one 'above the law,' Security Council told

Efforts by the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) to strengthen policing in the province, including the recent arrests of suspects in cases pending from 1999, showed that "no one is above the law," a senior UN official told the Security Council today.

In a briefing to an open meeting of the Council, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean Marie Guéhenno, said that an international judge opened an investigation last week into six former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army on charges that they may have tortured and beaten other members of that organization in June 1999 and exchanged gunfire during a house break-in in June 2000.

Mr. Guéhenno noted that, contrary to allegations from the head of the Kosovo Protection Corps, internal investigations suggest that the UN Police carried out their operations during the suspects' arrests in a professional manner, with a proportionate use of force. The arrests, he stressed, was evidence of the Mission's "zero tolerance" for crime.

"Crime does not only hurt the direct victim, but rather crimes hurts everyone," he said. "Continued support for UNMIK's fight against crimes…will benefit all people in Kosovo."

In the past month since his last briefing to the Council, Mr. Guéhenno said there also was the "welcome development" of the completion of the Government in which Kosovo Serb representatives filled the posts of Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development, and the Inter-ministerial Coordinator for Returns in the Office of the Prime Minister.

UNMIK had also continued to work with the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government to ensure respect for the division between reserved and transferred responsibilities, Mr. Guéhenno said.

Meanwhile, preparations continued for the 26 October municipal elections, the Under-Secretary-General reported. On 10 June, UNMIK chief Michael Steiner had promulgated a regulation on the municipal elections, defining a four-year mandate for the Municipal Assembly members.

At the same time, prospects for multi-ethnic participation were encouraging, he added, as more than 40 per cent of the applications received by UNMIK on 14 June for certification were from minority political parties, compared with only 26 per cent in the 2000 elections.

Following Mr. Guéhenno's briefing, all 15 members of the Council, as well as the representatives from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Spain, which was speaking on behalf of the European Union, participated in the ensuing discussion.