|A member of Kosovo Police. Photo: BIRN|
An attempted bank robbery in the Kosovo town of Istog/ Istok on Thursday, which claimed the lives of two victims, a police officer and the suspect, has highlighted concerns about the lack of life insurance for officers, which the police union has been demanding for years.
‚ÄúFor eight years we have regularly put pressure on the government and the relevant ministries for health and life insurance. The health and interior ministers always promise that it will be done, but it never happened,‚ÄĚ Shaban Tasholli, the head of the Union of Kosovo Police, told BIRN on Friday.
Considering this one of the union’s biggest concerns, Tasholli said they have been writing to the government time after time. Despite receiving no support, officers have always remained fully on duty, he added.
‚ÄúWe are not satisfied at all that our demands have not been fulfilled, yet still carry out all the duties that we are responsible for, day or night, regardless of the risks,‚ÄĚ Tasholli said.
‚ÄúPolice know what risks to expect when they wear the uniform, but it would different in terms of comfort if [minimal] working conditions were met,‚ÄĚ he adds.
Izet Demaj was the first police officer to respond to the bank robbery on Thursday where, during a shootout with the robber, Kamer Metaj, he was wounded and died soon after.
Metaj, who was killed by officers during the shootout, had criminal records in other European countries, but police did not provide more details. He had also held two people as hostages during the attempted robbery.
Kosovo Police found a hand grenade, a pistol and an AK-47 automatic rifle in Metaj’s possession.
Metaj‚Äôs brother and another relative were arrested that evening, suspected of being involved also in the attempted robbery.
‚ÄúThe murder was very grave news for the entire police, as it is for all citizens of Kosovo‚Ä¶but such cases happen. This is the 20th member of the Kosovo Police to be murdered on duty,‚ÄĚ Tasholli said.
He stated that according to current regulations, the families of police murdered on duty are entitled to receive a pension worth 70 per cent of his basic salary.
Answering BIRN‚Äôs question about life insurance for police officers, Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj during a visit to the police headquarters on Friday stated that they will proceed with such a law in the first days of January.
‚ÄúWe have worked on it, laws have been advanced and I think that during the first days of January I will begin to proceed with these laws one by one,‚ÄĚ Haradinaj said.
The government has also allocated 15,000 euros for the family of the killed police officer.