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News 23 Jul 12

Fire Damages Kosovo’s Palace of Justice

Six teams of fire-fighters spent over four hours battling to bring the blaze under control.

Fatmir Aliu

Kosovo’s Palace of Justice caught fire on Sunday, damaging at least three floors of the building, which is still under construction. No workers on the site were injured.

Work on the construction of the Palace of Justice Compound, funded by the European Union and the Kosovo government, started on June 3, 2011. The European Commission Liaison Office to Kosovo has given over 25 million euro for the project. The contract was awarded to a Kosovo-Bulgarian consortium, part-owned by the mayor of Suhareka, Blerim Kuci.

The damage, according to the firemen, is significant. Kosovo’s Minister of Justice, Hajredin Kuci, visited the scene and told BIRN that the police have yet to decide what caused the fire.

“We know that we still have to respect the deadline for finishing the work, and respect the quality of construction,” Kuci said. According to the contract, the compound was supposed to be finished by June 2013 at the latest.

Owing to the strong wind, the fire spread to nearby fields and towards the “New Pristina neighbourhood”. Dozens of volunteers went into the fields to fight the flames, carrying buckets of water and using tractors. With the help of the fire-fighters, no homes were damaged, though some gardens and fruit trees were destroyed.

Kosovo Police spokesperson Baki Kelani told BIRN on Sunday that an investigation has been launched into the incident.

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