Kosovo: UN envoy expresses distress at murder of Serb teenager

7 June 2004

Describing his deep distress at learning of the murder of a Serbian teenager in Kosovo on Friday night, the head of the United Nations mission in Kosovo has warned that any attempts to spark ethnic tensions in the troubled province will not be tolerated.

Harri Holkeri, the head of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, issued a statement yesterday deploring the killing.

In his statement, Mr. Holkeri said he was sending his deputy, Jean-Christian Cady, to represent him at the funeral of Dimitrije Popovic today. He also thanked UNMIK Police and the Kosovo Police Service (KPS) for their response to the crime.

Mr. Popovic was shot dead while standing with friends in the town of Gracanica. Two suspects were arrested Saturday.

In March, Kosovo was rocked by several days of ethnic violence between Serbs and Albanians that left 19 people dead, hundreds injured and homes and Serbian religious and cultural sites damaged or destroyed.

Referring to those events in his statement, Mr. Holkeri said, “I had hoped that everyone has learned the lessons of the events of 17 and 18 March: violence will only set Kosovo back. Any provocation with the aim to once more flare up ethnic tensions will be firmly countered.”