UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Britain on Wednesday criticized a United Nations probe into the March storming of a courthouse by U.N. and NATO troops in Kosovo that concluded that commanders had ignored cautionary advice from New York.
“While we do support an investigation, we don’t believe that all the facts were properly aired in this case,” British Deputy U.N. Ambassador Karen Pierce told reporters after a Security Council briefing about the matter.
U.N. police and NATO troops raided the U.N. court in the town of Mitrovica in northern Kosovo on March 17 to retake it from Serbs who had forcibly occupied the building three days earlier in protest at Kosovo declaring independence.
The report “does not sufficiently take into account the situation on the ground,” Pierce said.
“This was a premeditated attack on the international personnel in Kosovo,” she said. “The demonstrators had access to long-barrelled weapons, to petrol bombs, to grenades, these are not things found lying around the average courtroom.”
The notion that it was a “peaceful demonstration” that UNMIK — the U.N. mission in Kosovo — reacted “heavy-handedly” to was not correct, she said.
The violence during those clashes was the worst since Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in February. A 25-year-old Ukrainian U.N. policeman was killed by a grenade and a Serb protester was wounded.
Russia’s U.N. ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, has repeatedly criticized the raid and Western support for Kosovo’s secession. He said last week that the U.N. probe found commanders had ignored advice from U.N. headquarters against storming the building.
A written report on the investigation has not been released yet but Western U.N. diplomats confirmed what Churkin said.
Editing by Patricia Zengerle