Kosovo Arrests Five for Serb Grave Desecrations

“After the arrested were interviewed at the police station, the prosecution sent all the information to the court because there were suspicions about their involvement in the grave demolitions,” Ismet Hasani, spokesperson for Kosovo police in Gjilane, told BIRN.

“One of the arrested is an adult, while the other four are under the age of 18,” he said.

After being detained and questioned on Wednesday, all five young males were released again ahead of their trial.

More than 60 Serbian Orthodox graves have been demolished over the past two weeks in apparent retaliation for Belgrade’s forcible removal of a monument to ethnic Albanian fighters in the south Serbia town of Presevo on January 20.

Kosovo’s Prime Minister Hashim Thaci condemned the vandalism, calling it “embarrassing, despicable and unacceptable” and the Pristina authorities said they would repair the gravestones.

Three other people have already been detained and five police officers suspended over the demolition of a World War II memorial in Vitia/Vitina last week.

The controversial monument in Presevo commemorated guerrillas who died in an attempt to unite parts of southern Serbia with Kosovo during a brief conflict with government forces in 2000 and was considered by Belgrade to be an incitement to separatism.

Several thousand people joined a rally in Pristina on January 26 to protest against the monument’s removal, which has also drawn condemnation from Albania’s leadership.Kosovo police detained five youths on suspicion of vandalising Serbian Orthodox graves in the town of Vitia/Vitina – four of them under the age of 18.

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