Parliamentary question by Marco Pannella (NI) to the Council and reply

Parliamentary questions
by Marco Pannella (TDI) to the Council
(10 January 2000)

Subject: The cases of Mrs Flora Brovina, Mr Albin Kurti and Mr Ukshin Hoti

Mrs Flora Brovina, a paediatrician and intellectual from Pristina, was arrested by the Belgrade authorities for providing Kosovars with medical and food aid during the war. She was also accused of preparing terrorist acts. She was initially detained in Lipljan prison in Kosovo, where she was repeatedly tortured, and was then transferred to Serbia. During visits, she was not allowed to speak Albanian. She has a heart condition and has difficulty in obtaining the necessary medicines. On 9 December 1999 Mrs Brovina was sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment for "activities against the State".

Mr Albin Kurti, a former representative of the Pristina Students Union, was brutally arrested on 28 April 1999 and is held in Pozarevac prison in Serbia. He is also accused of "activities against the State" and "links with a terrorist organisation". Since he was deported to Serbia, the Serbian authorities have refused to provide any information about him.

Mr Ukshin Hoti, a university lecturer and leading Kosovar figure who was nominated for the EP's Sakharov Prize in 1998, was sentenced to five years' imprisonment in 1994. Although his prison sentence came to an end last May, he is still missing. According to two concurrent testimonies, he was released from Lipljan prison on 16 May 1999. However, his family have not received any official notification from the Belgrade authorities. He may subsequently have been abducted and taken to Serbia.

Does the Council have more detailed information on the above cases?

What action has the Council taken, in particular at the United Nations and OSCE levels, with a view to the speedy release of some 2000 Kosovar prisoners still held in Serbian prisons, and to obtaining all the necessary information on the persons who have disappeared?

(13 March 2000)

The Council fully shares the Honourable Parliamentarian's concern over of the fate of the Kosovar prisoners still held in Serbia and notably in the cases of Mrs Flora Brovina, Mr Albin Kurti and Mr Ukshin Hoti. On the occasion of the 19 July 1999 General Affairs Council, Ministers called on the FRY to guarantee the ICRC full access to these prisoners. The Council also called for the immediate release of prisoners held without charges and to treat prisoners in accordance with applicable international standards.

After the 19 July GAC, the ICRC has been allowed access to Serbian jails by the Belgrade authorities. It has so far identified 2000 Kosovo Albanian prisoners and might be in possession of updated information on the whereabouts and the conditions of the prisoners mentioned by the Honourable Parliamentarian.

The Honourable Parliamentarian can be assured that the Council will continue to consider progress in democratic freedoms and respect for the rights of minorities including the fate of the Kosovar prisoners as the key element for an eventual lifting of sanctions targeting the Belgrade regime.