March 2, 2006, Thursday - BBC Monitoring International Reports

Text of report by D.T. entitled "General of scorched earth" published by the Serbian newspaper Politika on 2 March

An Interpol warrant was issued in 2002 for Agim Ceku, commander of the Kosovo Protection Corps [KPC; TMK in Albanian], at the request of the Serbian MUP [Interior Ministry] for crimes committed against Serb civilians in Kosovo-Metohija. Ceku has been indicted of the crime by the prosecution of the District Court in Nis.

On the strength of this warrant, the Hungarian border guard service detained the KPC commander on Sunday, 29 February 2004, as he was returning with 40 other KPC members from an exercise in Ostrava in the Czech Republic. Agim Ceku, together with the group of senior KPC officials, was released after two hours.

Ceku has been accused also of genocide against the Serb community in Kosovo-Metohija; he was put on trial before the District Court in Pristina. After the signing of the Kumanovo Agreement on 9 June 1999, this court was moved to Nis, which is something UNMIK [UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo] does not recognize. In mid-October 2003, Ceku was taken into custody at Ljubljana's Brnik Airport on the same warrant; he was released after 12 hours.

In 1991, Agim Ceku, then with the rank of captain in the JNA [Yugoslav People's Army], deserted from the then Yugoslav Army and joined the Croatian National Guard Corps (ZNG). Together with Mirko Norac, Tomislav Mercep, and Tihomir Oreskovic, Ceku organized the first attack on a JNA garrison in Gospic on 18 September 1991. Media reported that, after taking control of the garrison, Ceku was involved in the abduction and murder of 156 prominent Serbs. Later, Ceku was suspected of involvement in the killing of Serbs in the Medak Pocket, where 87 innocent civilians were brutally liquidated.

He returned to Kosovo in the spring of 1998, where in the Kosovo Liberation Army [KLA; OVK in Serbian; UCK in Albanian] he succeeded his main rival Jakup Krasniqi, who was killed in the meantime. Ceku became OVK commander soon after Krasniqi's death. The appointment was made at a meeting held in Albania on 13 May 1999, while NATO air strikes were in progress.

The first sign of Ceku's "active" presence in Kosmet [Kosovo-Metohija] came with the discovery of a "crematorium" near the village of Klecka. That crime was strongly reminiscent of Ceku's crimes in the Krajina region [Croatia], which had earned him the nickname of "general of scorched earth." International forces were deployed to Kosmet in the summer of 1999, after which, in the fall of that year, the OVK was officially disbanded and replaced by the Kosovo Protection Corps. Ceku was made commander of that formation, a job he holds to this day.

Source: Politika, Belgrade, in Serbian 2 Mar 06 p8

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Serbian agency profiles Kosovo Premier-Designate Agim Ceku
BBC Monitoring Europe (Political) - March 3, 2006 Friday

Text of report by Serbian news agency Beta

Belgrade, 2 March: Kosovo's prime minister designate Agim Ceku was born in the village of Cuska near Pec [Kosovo] in 1960. He attended the Military Academy in Belgrade for two years before moving to continue his studies at the Military Academy in Zadar [Croatia].

He was platoon commander in the JNA [Yugoslav People's Army] School of Reserve Officers from 1984 to 1990, after which he commanded an artillery platoon in the Military Academy in Zadar for a year.

When war broke out in the former Yugoslavia, in October 1991, he joined the [Croatian] National Guard Corps [ZNG] and was given the command of an artillery unit in Zadar, after which he was made deputy commander of a combat division. In February 1992, he was given the command of the Maslenica combat division and then an antitank division and the garrison in Gospic. As a member of the Croatian Army, Ceku was decorated by Croatia's first President Franjo Tudjman nine times for "bravery shown in fighting Yugoslav forces."

According to the Glas Javnosti newspaper of 12 October 1999, Ceku distinguished himself in Croatia by commanding Operation Scorched Earth, that is, attacks on Medak, Citluk, and Pocitelj in September 1993, when all Serb villages in the area were razed.

At that time, Ceku was artillery commander in the Ninth Guards Brigade, known as the Wolves [Vukovi], under the command of General Mirko Norac. After this, he was promoted to the rank of general and then underwent a training course conducted for handpicked Croatian officers and men by US Army instructors.

In February 1999, Brigadier General Agim Ceku resigned from the Croatian Army and went to Kosovo, where he joined the OVK [Kosovo Liberation Army - KLA; UCK in Albanian]. He was made OVK commander on 14 May 1999, replacing Sulejman "Sultan" Selimi, whose had been a political appointment and who had had no formal military training.

When, under pressure from Kfor [NATO-led Kosovo Force], the OVK was transformed into the Kosovo Protection Corps [KPC; TMK in Albanian], Ceku was appointed supreme commander of that force.

Four years ago, the Serbian judiciary issued an international warrant for Agim Ceku's arrest on charges of genocide committed against Serbs at the time of the conflicts and before Kfor's deployment to Kosovo.

The indictment brought by the Serbian judiciary holds Ceku, in his capacity as commander of the former OVK, responsible by command responsibility for the murder of 669 Serbs and 18 members of other ethnic minorities, 518 counts of grievous bodily harm and wounding, and 584 abductions.

On the basis of findings by investigating bodies, the public prosecutor ordered Agim Ceku and the present chairman of the Democratic Party of Kosovo [PDK], Hashim Thaci, into custody in absentia and the federal police in Belgrade issued a warrant for Ceku's arrest through Interpol in 2002.

Proceedings in the case of Ceku and Thaci, which were instituted in 2000 by the District Court in Pristina - which has been relocated to Nis - have been taken over by the War Crimes Chamber of the District Court in Belgrade.

On the strength of the warrant issued by the Serbian judiciary, Ceku was arrested on two occasions. The first time was at Ljubljana Airport in October 2003 and the second, at Budapest Airport in February 2004.

After the first arrest, the Slovene police released Agim Ceku pursuant to a letter from then UNMIK [UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo] chief Harri Holkeri, who said that UNMIK did not recognize the authority of the District Court in Pristina, relocated to Nis, on whose order the indictment was brought.

The second time, the Hungarian border police released Ceku from custody as a Croatian citizen.

Ceku is married and has two sons, who live in Croatia.

Source: Beta news agency, Belgrade, in Serbian 1542 gmt 2 Mar 06

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