The Kosovo Ombudsman launched an ex officio investigation into allegations that Kosovo police special units used excessive force against residents of the Strpce municipality who were protesting against the construction of mini hydroelectric power plants in Donja Bitinja village – the Ombudsman confirmed for KoSSev. The KoSSev portal has been trying for months to get an answer whether the Ombudsman will launch an ex officio investigation into excessive use of force claims.
The residents of the Strpce municipality have been actively protesting against the construction of MHPPs in this municipality for a year now. The protests, however, were marked with allegations of excessive use of force by the Kosovo police. Back in May, one of the injured villagers told KoSSev that seventeen protestors received medical treatment in Strpce – eye rinsing, injury and burn treatment, while one protestor’s nose was broken and another suffered an arm fracture. Allegations of excessive use of force were repeated in October, when dozens of people, including children, were injured in Donja Bitinja village in another series of protests against the construction of the MHPP.
The locals claimed that the police used excessive force during the two aforementioned protests, which was then picked up by the media. The Ombudsman launched an ex officio investigation after Pristina-based Koha reported on the events at the protest in Donja Bitina.
„The Ombudsperson Institution, in accordance with the constitutional role and powers and responsibilities provided for in the Law on the Ombudsman, has initiated ex-officio investigation no. 773/2019, based on a source of information from Koha.net, regarding the use of force by police officers – a special unit – against the inhabitants of the village of Bitinja, Strpce municipality, who had come out to protest against the construction of a hydroelectric power plant,“ the Ombudsperson institution wrote in a statement for KoSSev.
As of September 27th, the KoSSev portal has been trying to acquire the position of the Ombudsman Institution regarding the allegations presented in May.
The Ombudsman Institution told KoSSev that they did not receive a complaint from any citizen regarding the events at the May 3rd protests, that the case was not investigated and that this institution had no stance on the matter.
As of October 7th, we are waiting for the answer to the question of whether – based on the allegations presented in our article from May – the Ombudsman does not believe there are sufficient grounds to initiate an ex officio investigation and investigate this case. We did not manage to get a response despite repeated inquiries to this institution. Two days ago, we sent the last question on when we can expect the Ombudsman’s reply.
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