Kosovo: Police arrest ethnic Albanian suspected of killing 15 serbs

Pristina, 16 Oct. (AKI) - Members of the international police in Kosovo arrested on Tuesday an ethnic Albanian suspected of killing 15 Serbs in Serbia’s breakaway ethnic Albanian majority province, local media reported.

Local radio said police surrounded the village of Veliki Alas, south of province’s capital Pristina, with tens of armored vehicles early in the morning and arrested Melzum Bitici.

Kosovo police spokesman Veton Elsani confirmed that an ethnic Albanian, suspected of war crimes, was arrested but gave no details.

Bitici is suspected of gunning down 14 Serbs in the village of Staro Gracko on July 23, 1999, while they were harvesting wheat. He’s also suspected of having in June 1999 killed a Serb woman, Milena Stojanovic, in his native village , prompting all Serbs to flee Veliki Alas.

Police have complained they were unable to solve the crimes because of constant intimidation of potential witnesses.

Kosovo was put under United Nations control after NATO airstrikes drove Serbian forces out of the province in June 1999 amid gross human rights violations and a mass exodus of ethnic Albanians.

Over 200,000 Serbs have fled the province since then and close to 3,000 have been killed or listed as missing, according to the International Red Cross.

Belgrade opposes independence for Kosovo - viewed by Serbs as the birthplace of their state - where ethnic Albanians outnumber Serbs by 17 to one.

UN sponsored talks on the province's future status have so far been deadlocked.


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