A Serb in Velika Hoca sustained minor injuries or was his nose broken? Locals complain of their Albanian neighbors’ cattle straying into their properties

Velika Hoča
Foto: Kossev

Two Velika Hoca locals, ethnic Serbs, S.M. and M.L., were attacked last night at approximately 9pm while taking a walk through the village. As they claim, they were physically assaulted by a father and son, ethnic Albanians, who were previously reported by a third person to the police because their cattle were straying into Serb-owned properties. Following an incident in which a man sustained minor injuries, one person was arrested last night in Velika Hoca, the Kosovo Police confirmed for KoSSev, without mentioning the second person. Unlike the police, however, the Kosovo Office announced that M.L.’s nose was broken during the incident.

The Serb farmers in Velika Hoca have recently been facing the problem of the cattle belonging to their Albanian neighbours straying into their grain and fruit tree covered fields, the locals told KoSSev last night. The Kosovo Office highlighted the same problem in a statement issued this morning.

According to S.M. from Velika Hoca, about ten days before Easter, several Serb farmers from the village gathered and requested a meeting with their Albanian neighbours and cattle breeders, because their cattle were straying into the grain or fruit plantations and causing damage.

„We called on all those people who have cattle not to let their cattle into our fields because of the damage they were causing. They told us they didn’t want to do that anymore. It all worked out nicely. We did not want to solve it with the police, they promised,“ S.M. told KoSSev last night.

However, the deal was short-lived:

„In the meantime, they let their cattle into our properties from time to time. I. M. has 40 acres of chokeberry, and about half-past one on Wednesday, the sheep strayed among the chokeberry shrubs. He then reported it to the police and the police warned them. „

S.M. revealed the details of the incident, claiming that he knows the attacker even though he does not know his name, which, as he says, is not unusual for this place where Serbs and Albanians know each other primarily by nicknames:

„In the evening, two people came to Velika Hoca. They arrived in a van, which dropped them off in the center of the village. M.L. and I were together, there were four of us, he (the attacker) was hidden in a corner. He spoke to me, I saw him and said, ‘oh, what’s up.’ He told me, „It’s not nice that you reported me.“ I replied: ‘I didn’t report you, there is the police, ask for the name and surname of the person who reported you, and go to that man, M.L. and I didn’t report you’. He started threatening us, cursing the police, swearing at us. There were a couple of men with us, we are all married. We said, ‘come on, let them be, maybe they’re drinking. We will resolve this tomorrow.’ We told them that, and we started walking from the center to the monument, about 150 meters. A blue van, a Mercedes, drove up. It belongs to this sheep owner, and his son was there. They called my name – ‘hey, J.. (cf. his nickname). Come here’ and they started cursing at me. I told him: ‘My friend, go to the police and resolve this.’ The van driver, a cattle owner, grabbed me by the neck and his son grabbed my sweatshirt, they also grabbed M.L. M.L. was punched in the nose by one of them, I got away, the third man jumped on us, we pulled away because we didn’t want to fight. We just wanted for them to get away from us.“

S.M. states that he then went to a nearby yard belonging to a Serb from Velika Hoca, where he called for help. The police were also notified, who then arrived on the scene. 

In a telephone conversation with KoSSev last night, he revealed that he was not injured, noting that the police were taking M.L.’s statement at the time.

S.M. emphasized that Serbs and Albanians had a good relationship until recently when the attacks on Serbs and Serb property increased once again.

As an example, he cited the recent incident when a car belonging to a local deacon was damaged.

S.M. confirms that he and M.L, with their two combine harvesters, have been conducting threshing on the properties belonging to Serbs and Albanians alike for six years. He stressed that they have not had any similar problems so far.

„Everyone was satisfied, both Albanians and Serbs. We had no problems, but they are now more frequent. Yesterday, the deacon’s car was damaged.“

M.L, who sustained injuries, told KoSSev in a short conversation this morning that he could not talk and that we would speak later.

Police: Minor injuries, one person arrested, I mediated the previous meeting

The KoSSev portal tried to find out more details about the incident from the commander of the Kosovo Police in this village, Fazli Morina last night. Morina, however, asked us to contact him today, because, as he said, he was not at the scene.

In a short statement for KoSSev this morning, Morina confirmed that the incident was reported and that M.L. received medical assistance, although he was not detained for further treatment. Morina did not specify what kind of injuries M.L. sustained.

After receiving medical assistance, the police took his statement, Morina also said.

He also confirmed that the perpetrator, an ethnic Albanian had been arrested and that the procedure is ongoing.

Morina revealed that he is not aware as to whether the other attacker had been questioned, noting that he had not yet read the police report.

Contrary to S.M.’s claims that the local Serbs held a meeting with their Albanian neighbours at their own initiative, and without police assistance, in connection with the cattle straying into their properties, Morina alleged that the meeting took place in cooperation with the police. He also said that he personally mediated the meeting.

Commenting on the attack on the local deacon’s vehicle, the police commander says that the perpetrator has not been found yet.

The Kosovo police previously confirmed for KoSSev that the attack on the deacon’s property was reported on Tuesday morning. They also said that it was registered as property damage. The investigation is ongoing.

Kosovo Office: Broken nose, Serb farmers targeted, instead of being solved, the problem escalated into a bigger incident

The Kosovo Office reacted, presenting details that are in line with what S.M. previously told KoSSev – that a Velika Hoca local M.L. was first verbally attacked and then physically assaulted by three Albanians. This Office also revealed that his nose was broken and that he was under medical observation.

„Residents of Velika Hoca and Orahovac have been targeted for months by local Albanians who release cattle on their properties and thus destroy their agricultural plantations,“ the Office stated. The same claims were previously presented by S.M.

„The attacked Lukic drew police’s attention to this problem on several occasions, but it kept happening. Instead of solving the problem, it escalated into an even bigger incident, and Lukic was attacked because he reported the problem,“ the Kosovo Office wrote in a statement.

The Kosovo Office stated that it expects an adequate punishment for this serious assault on M.L. They also urged the police to protect the property of Serb families in this part of Kosovo, whose only source of income comes from agriculture.

Velika Hoca is known as an agricultural and wine-growing region, where chokeberry growing gained popularity in recent years.

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