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Yugoslavia: Investigator Urges Probe Into Suspected Kosovo Executions

Geneva, 15 April 1998 (RFE/RL) -- A top U.N. investigator is calling on Serbian authorities to allow an international investigation of suspected summary executions by government security forces in Kosova. The new UN special rapporteur for human rights in the former Yugoslavia, Jiri Dienstbier, made the request in a report today to the U.N. Human Rights Commission in Geneva on his recent visit to Kosova.

In his report, Dienstbier urged the government to allow independent experts to forensically examine the bodies of civilians killed during armed operations by police in the villages of Likosani, Cirez and Prekaz in late February and early March. At least 80 Kosova Albanians, many of them women and children, died.

He says witnesses had reported executions and mutilations of the bodies of the victims. Others had spoken of local people taken to police stations and being beaten and tortured.

The government says it ordered the security crackdown in the mostly ethnic-Albanian province after police came under attack by militant Kosova Albanians, who are seeking Kosova's independence from Belgrade.

Dienstbier said the emergence of radical elements in Kosova had fueled a cycle of violence and retaliation and said the continuing tense situation calls for a swift political solution. He said both sides must be convinced to begin a genuine dialogue immediately.