Kosovo Police operations chief told BIRN that Dejan Pantic – who was arrested 12 days ago – is being held at a police station near the Serbian border and is receiving all the treatment he needs.
Gazmend Hoxha, Director of Operations of the Kosovo Police, told BIRN that detained policeman Dejan Pantic is being held in a police station in Jarinje, near the Serbian border, and is receiving all necessary medical treatment.
“He is being held at Jarinje police station,” Hoxha said, adding that the Serbian barricades erected immediately after his arrest made it impossible to transfer Pantic to a detention centre.
On Tuesday, Nebojsa Vlajic, his lawyer, told the media that he still did not know his client’s location, several days after his arrest.
“Everyone believes that he is at a base of the Kosovo Police”, near the Jarinje border crossing. “But whether it is really there or not, I don’t have any official confirmation,” he said.
Vlajic said that he had addressed the EU rule-of-law EULEX mission about Pantic’s whereabouts, noting that EULEX’s mandate is to supervise the judiciary in Kosovo. “More than two days ago, I asked for an answer to those questions, they still haven’t answered,” said Vlajic.
Civil society organisations as well as the Kosovo Ombudsperson have called for respect of human rights in Pantic’s case.
Hoxha rebuffed media reports about Pantic’s mistreatment. “It is not true. It is disinformation aimed at propaganda,” he said when asked about claims that he is lacking proper treatment and is sleeping in a chair.
“He does not sleep in a chair, he sleeps in a bed. He is provided food, water and medicines as prescribed by doctor. We have provided him with medics through our ways, and a EULEX medical team has visited him,” he added.
Tensions have spiked in Serb-majority municipalities in northern Kosovo lately and on December 9, local Serbs set up barricades on two roads in the north leading to the Jarinje and Bernjak crossing points with Serbia.
It followed Pantic’s arrest. He is suspected over the attack on municipal election offices in Mitrovica North during the time when the Kosovo authorities were trying to organize local elections early this month.
The government then closed the two crossing points and an uneasy standoff has persisted since then.
Hoxha says the arrest was only a “pretext” for erecting barricades. “The barricades have been erected more for political motives than as a reaction to this arrest,” he said.
Hoxha said that since the barricades were erected on December 9, communication between Police units has been more difficult.
On Tuesday, Police confirmed that nine officers who were on duty in northern police stations were transferred by KFOR peacekeepers to the rest of the country due to health reasons.
“Kosovo Police has no restrictions in its mandate of operation in any part of the country, including the north,” Hoxha said, referring to Serbia government claims that Special Units of the Kosovo Police had no right to enter Serb-dominated northern municipalities.
“Our units act according to their duties and needs, depending on our operational assessment in the field,” he said.
21 December 2022 - 13:56
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