October 13, 2015

PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Fifteen policemen and one civilian were injured during a violent protest by the opposition Self-Determination Party (Vetevendosje!) after an opposition lawmaker was taken in for questioning, Kosovo police said Tuesday.

Police spokesman Baki Kelani says opposition leader Albin Kurti was taken to a police station Monday evening to be questioned on the use of tear gas to disrupt the parliament session last week. The opposition had been protesting against the government’s recent EU-sponsored deal with Serbia giving the Kosovo’s Serb-majority areas greater powers.

Video images of the session showed Kurti opening the first canister of tear gas. “A small group” of protesters gathered in front of the police station where Kurti was being interviewed, hurling stones, other hard objects and putting two cars of the prosecutor’s office on fire, Kelani said, adding that half a dozen cars were also damaged.

“They did not respect police calls to disperse and police were obliged to intervene,” Kelani said by telephone, adding that Kurti was questioned based on a prosecutor’s warrant. Kurti’s Vetevendosje! said police did not explain why Kurti was being questioned, adding that hundreds of citizens and supporters faced with “exaggerated violence from police” using tear gas and also iron and plastic batons injuring many of them.

Kurti, a member of parliament, was released after midnight while nine protesters have been arrested, Kelani said Tuesday. The party called for more anti-government protests. “Pristina, Kosovo … will topple down this government of mafia and collaborationists too,” said a statement from the Vetevendosje! party.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 but Serbia has refused to recognize it.

Llazar Semini in Tirana, Albania, contributed to this report.