Kosovo Essay, Research Paper
War crime suspects hunted after jailbreak
MITROVICA, Kosovo — Hundreds of NATO-led peacekeepers and U.N. police are searching for a group of Serb prisoners, many charged with war crimes, who escaped from a jail in the northern Kosovo city of Mitrovica.
Roadblocks have been set up on roads leading to Serbia, while dogs are also being used to track the men through a wooded area near the jail.
The province’s United Nations administration said the break-out took place on Saturday at around 9:00 p.m. local time (1900 GMT).
A spokesman for the peacekeepers said 15 prisoners fled the facility but two were caught immediately.
The prisoners escaped by overpowering a U.N. police guard who had accompanied a prisoner back to his cell after a phone call.
They attacked the guard, tied him up and used his keys to open the other cells. They then escaped over a barbed wire fence.
Michael Keats, spokesman for the U.N. in Mitrovica, said three of the prisoners were being held on genocide charges and four for crimes linked to the conflict between Serbs and ethnic Albanians.
Four more were accused of mass murder, one of murder and one of arson and theft.
The jail, in the Serb-dominated northern part of the ethnically divided city, has been used as one of the main centres for Serb prisoners in Kosovo.
“It is very hard to express the degree of concern that I have over this incident,” William Nash, a former U.S. army general serving as the Mitrovica region’s civilian administrator, said.
“I am sure the U.N. police will conduct a thorough investigation and take appropriate action.”
Police and the NATO-led KFOR peacekeeping force are conducting operations in an effort to recapture the prisoners, blocking roads and searching buildings, Keats said.
The incident comes one month after three Serbs accused of genocide and war crimes escaped from a hospital in the city.
Since June 1999, Mitrovica has come under the remit of the Northern Command of KFOR, the NATO-led multinational peacekeeping force.
Four thousand troops under French control — 2,500 from France, the rest from Spain, Poland, Russia, Belgium and the United Arab Emirates — are responsible for maintaining the fragile peace.
The Associated Press & Reuters contributed to this report.