EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: EUR 70/09/95
UA 163/95 Death after custody / Fear of torture/ill-treatment 7 July 1995
FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF YUGOSLAVIA (Kosovo province)Shefki Latifi
and other ethnic Albanians
The death on 4 July 1995 of Shefki Latifi after allegedly being severely beaten
in custody has greatly heightened fears for the safety of other ethnic Albanians
in Kosovo province as short-term arrests there continue.
On the morning of 4 July, Shefki Latifi, from the town of Podujevo and an
accountant of the local "parallel" ethnic Albanian municipal bureau, was
reportedly arrested in the street by police officers and taken to the police
station in Podujevo. There, he and a friend, Ramadan Salihu, whom the police
had arrested at Shefki Latifi's house while looking for Latifi, were reportedly
severely beaten by police officers, including one known to his two victims
by his nickname.
The two men were then released and the police ordered Ramadan Salihu to drive
Shefki Latifi home. It seems that Latifi, conscious but injured, asked his
friend to drive him to hospital. As they were about to enter the local medical
centre, police officers reportedly stopped the car, forced Ramadan Salihu out,
and again beat him. Shefki Latifi received first aid at the centre and was
sent home, where he died later that morning.
Shefki Latifi's family have reportedly been told by staff at Pristina hospital
(Pristina is the capital of Kosovo province) that an investigating judge in
the town of Prokuplje has been asked to issue an order for an autopsy to be
Meanwhile, arrests of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo province are continuing.
The number of arrests, particularly in Podujevo, has increased since 26 June,
when Bejtush Beka, an ethnic Albanian police officer working for the state
security police of Serbia, was shot in the back in Podujevo by an unknown person.
He subsequently died. Police have already arrested and questioned many ethnic
Albanian political and human rights activists, including members of local
organizations, like Shefki Latifi, who refuse to recognize Serbian authority
in the province. Although the majority of those arrested are released within
24 hours, many are alleged to have been severely ill-treated, compounding fears
for the safety of any ethnic Albanian now taken into custody.
To Amnesty International's knowledge, Shefki Latifi is the third ethnic Albanian
in Kosovo in 1995 to have died after arrest and alleged ill-treatment in custody.
On the night of 12/13 April Abedin Ahmeti died in police custody in Mitrovica.
Two police officers are reportedly under investigation in connection with his
death. On 9 April Ismail Salihu was arrested by police and severely ill-treated;
as a result he was admitted to hospital from 10 to 14 April. He returned home
but died on 1 May, apparently as a result of his ill-treatment.
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