As the Serbian PM called on the authorities in South Serbia to remove a monument dedicated to ethnic Albanian fighters, a group of Serbian extremist tried to tear down the memorial by themselves.
Monument in front of Presevo municipality buidling
Photo by Beta
Fourteen men were arrested on Sunday evening on the road towards the south of Serbia, under suspicion that they were planning to violently remove the monument dedicated to the Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac, an ethnic Albanians guerrilla force whose goal was to unite South Serbia with Kosovo.
According to the police reports, some of those arrested were carrying cold arms including two sledgehammers, and several knives, metal bars and knuckledusters.
Previously, speaking at his party’s rally on Saturday, the Serbian Prime Minister, Ivica Dacic, had called on the authorities in south Serbia to remove the monument.
“Some say that I would not dare to remove the monument dedicated to those who killed the Serbian police officers. Either you remove the monument by yourself or it will be destroyed because the Serbian government has the executive power over the whole of its territory,” Dacic said.
The monument, dedicated to the war veterans of the Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac, was erected in November in front of the municipal building in the town of Presevo, in south Serbia.
The creation of that ethnic Albanians guerrilla force in the late 1990s resulted in the conflict between Serbs and ethnic Albanians in south Serbia in 2000.
It was disarmed in 2001 following an internationally brokered peace deal, after which the Yugoslav Army re-entered the demilitarized area near the border with Kosovo with the approval of NATO.
After the conflict ended in South Serbia, the authorities signed the Amnesty Law, which freed all armed men who had participated in the conflict from the threat of prosecution.
The law applies to all those accused of terrorism or joint criminal enterprises in the municipalities of Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja in relation to acts carried out between January 1999 and May 2001.
When the monument was erected, Ragimi Mustafa, the president of the municipality of Presevo said that the history of every nation needs to be respected, including the history of the ethnic Albanians in that area.
As a response, the Serbian government filed criminal charges against the representatives of the Presevo municipality as the monument was not erected in accordance with the Serbian procedures.