Kosovo Police arrest a cameraman in Suhareke/Suva Reka on February 3, 2022. Photo: BIRN

Kosovo Arrests, then Releases, Cameraman Recording Company Eviction

Kosovo police have been criticised for detaining a cameraman on Thursday for recording the eviction from its premises of a company put under administration by the privatisation agency.

Kosovo Police apprehended, then released, a cameraman in the southern town of Suhareke/Suva Reka filming the eviction of a privatised company put under administration by the Kosovo Privatisation Agency, KPA.

“I insisted on recording the event but the police considered that I was hindering their work. I told them: ‘I am not hindering you,’” Albion Selitaj, a cameraman for the news portal Ekonomia Online told BIRN after he was released, less than two hours after he was apprehended.

“The only word I said to them was: ‘Don’t touch my camera’, but they pushed me and then I got arrested. Police were dealing with us, not with the issue they came to deal with,” he added.

Selitaj said that unlike the officers during his arrest, the police in Suhareke/Suva Reka police station “behaved in a correct way”.

Kosovo Police spokesperson Vesel Gashi confirmed that Selitaj was apprehended “for obstructing officials performing their duties, despite being warned [not to]”.

“Under Prosecutor’s order, he was released and the case now goes through regular procedures,” Gashi said.

Condemning the arrest, the Association of Journalists of Kosovo, AJK, said the police behaved in an “unprofessional way”.

“Rather than hinder them, the AJK expects the Kosovo Police to create reporting conditions for media workers in such events,” the AJK said.

Selitaj and his colleagues were attending a press conference called by Agro Kosova Holding company, which on Thursday was put under the administration of the KPA after the agency concluded that the winery had “failed to fulfil pledges” made under its privatisation agreement.

The company, which had been a well-known socially-owned enterprise, was privatized in 2007 for around 4.2 million euros. The agency said that external audits had uncovered a “serious violation” of the contract, as it fulfilled only 25 per cent of employment ropmises and 86 per cent of agreed investments from 2007 to 2017.

Aziz Tafaj, director of the company, said they were obliged to vacate the premises after police warnings. “The KPA’s decisions are not orders to us; they are illegal, and we said that we will not vacate the premises voluntarily,” Tafaj told the media.

“But the police told us that if we did not vacate the premise, we will be evicted by force. We have not come here to resist the police in our property. When the police say they will evict us forcefully, this is a forceful eviction,” Tafaj said.

03/02/2022 - 16:32

03 February 2022 - 16:32

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