Prisoners in Kosovo start hunger strike in protest at alleged delays: UN mission

21 April 2004

Some 26 inmates at a detention centre in Kosovo have begun a hunger strike to protest delays in the hearing of appeals of two men found guilty of war crimes, a spokesman for the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) said today.

Spokesman Neeraj Singh said the protest, at Mitrovica Detention Centre, began late yesterday when the prisoners refused to take food.

Miroslav Vuckovic and Veselin Besovic have both appealed to the Supreme Court of Kosovo against their separate convictions for war crimes. Mr. Vuckovic, who was sentenced to 12 years' jail after a re-trial in 2002, filed his appeal last May. The hearing is scheduled for next month. Mr. Besovic was jailed for seven years last June and filed his appeal in November - a date for that hearing has not yet been set.

Mr. Singh said that while the problem of case overload in Kosovo's judicial system was a factor, "it must be understood that these are very complex cases relating to charges of very serious nature that take time to be processed."

Mr. Singh added that representatives of the Penal Management Division in Kosovo and the Department of Justice were meeting with Mr. Vuckovic and Mr. Besovic to inform them about the status of their cases.


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