news 18 Feb 13

Kosovo Arrests Serb Church Icon Vandal

Kosovo police detained a man suspected of smashing religious icons at a Serbian Orthodox church amid a recent upsurge of desecrations.

Edona Peci
BIRN
Pristina

Police said the man, identified only as D.A., an ethnic Serb, was detained after he broke into the church in the village of Kufca in the Gilane region late on Saturday night, destroyed eight Orthodox icons and damaged two more.

“[The suspect] admitted he had broken the icons and also said he had demolished several icons in the same church in November 2012,” said the deputy head of the Gilane police, Shaban Azizi.

He gave no indication as to the suspect’s motives.

Police last month also detained five youths on suspicion of vandalising Serbian Orthodox graves in the town of Vitia/Vitina amid a wave of desecrations that came in retaliation for Belgrade’s forcible removal of a monument to ethnic Albanian fighters in the south Serbia town of Presevo.

Responsibilities for the protection of Serbian cultural and religious heritage in Kosovo were gradually transferred from the NATO mission to the police from July 2010 onwards, starting with the UNESCO world heritage-listed monastery at Gracanica.

Kosovo police have also established a special unit containing both Albanian and Serbian officers for the protection of cultural and religious heritage in Kosovo.

“The unit is functional,” Kosovo police spokesperson Brahim Sadriu told BIRN.

The police unit is expected to take over responsibility for the protection of all Serbian monuments including the remaining Orthodox monasteries.

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