Kosovo: UN mission says autopsies will be performed on dead protesters

Kosovo: UN mission says autopsies will be performed on dead protesters

The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Kosovo announced today that autopsied are being performed on the bodies of two protesters who died after a violent demonstration in the province’s capital, Pristina, at the weekend.

UN Police Commissioner Stephen Curtis voiced sadness over the deaths, which occurred after pro-independence protesters tore down barricades and threw stones at UN Police officers as they attempted to enter government buildings. The Mission, known as UNMIK, said the police responded with irritant gas.

Mr. Curtis said that while everyone has a right to peaceful protest, violence was unacceptable. He also invited Kosovo’s institutions to independently scrutinize the UN’s investigation into the matter.

Earlier this month, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the future status process Martti Ahtisaari presented a provisional plan under which Kosovo would have the right to govern itself and conclude international agreements, including membership in international bodies, with an international civilian and military presence supervising the new arrangements and helping to ensure peace and stability.

But the plan, which was presented to Serbia and to the ethnic Albanian Kosovo authorities, does not specifically mention independence for the province, which the UN has run since Western forces drove out Yugoslav troops in 1999 amid brutal ethnic fighting.

Serbia rejects independence, a goal sought by many of Kosovo’s ethnic Albanians, who outnumber Serbs and others by 9 to 1. Mr. Ahtisaari will now discuss his plan with the parties before finalizing it and sending it to the Security Council.