BIRN Crew Attacked While Covering Church-Building Initiative in Kosovo

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A man was questioned by police after he verbally attacked and insulted a crew from BIRN Kosovo while they were reporting on a controversial initiative to build a Catholic church in the village of Kline e Eperme/Gornja Klina.

Photo: BIRN

Journalist Adelina Ahmeti and camera operator Jetmir Hoxha from BIRN Kosovo’s Kallxo website were attacked on Monday by a resident of Kline e Eperme/Gornja Klina, a village in the Skenderaj/Srbica municipality, where a proposal to build a Catholic church has encountered resistance from some locals.

The police said on Thursday that the “suspect was interviewed and after a case was initiated by a decision from the prosecutor, he was released in the usual way”.

The BIRN crew visited the village to report on the proposal to build the church, initiated by a local man called Ndreke Kelmendi. Kelmendi insists that a church had previously existed at the same location, but his proposal has sparked negative reactions from several villagers who claim that the land is privately owned.

Moments after the BIRN crew went to Kelmendi’s house to interview him about the church issue, his brother Mustafe Hasani confronted them for several minutes, using insulting language and making threats.

“I swear to God that you will be in trouble,” Hasani repeatedly threatened.

The BIRN crew reported the incident to the police.

The Association of Journalists of Kosovo, AJK condemned the incident, saying that “any attack against journalists is an attack on free speech and democracy”.

“The AJK is concerned about the threats toward its colleagues and calls on the police to address the case as a priority,” it said.

“We condemn any form of threats against journalists, camera operators and media workers and call on the relevant institutions to secure justice for all threats and attacks on media,” it added.