Deported arrivals clash with UN police

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The Independent Online

Kosovo Albanians deported from Switzerland clashedviolently with United Nations police at Pristina airport yesterday in protest at their forcible repatriation.

UN police officers based at the airport struggled across the asphalt with some of the 15 Kosovo Albanians with criminal backgrounds who had arrived on a deportation flight from Zurich, alongside an estimated 45 Kosovo refugees deported because their requests for asylum had been refused.

"You are racists, I had a right to be in Switzerland," shouted one man, hands in plastic handcuffs, escorted by three police officers from the flight to an area where he was fingerprinted. Another man was forcibly restrained by seven policemen as hescreamed protests at having been deported. One officer was bitten by a deportee in the mêlée, the head of UN police at the airport, Lincoln Dinning, said.

An estimated 20 officers were involved in leading the deportees off the flight, which arrived just after midday, the first of four deportation flights from Germany and Switzerland to arrive yesterday at Slatina airport, Pristina.

Those on board were arrested in three cantons around Zurich and Berne, held in detention centres and then flown to Kosovo, accompanied by Swiss police. Switzerland will return between 20,000 and 35,000 Kosovo Albanians before the end of the year.

In conjunction with the International Organisation for Migration, the Swiss authorities have given Kosovo Albaniansillegally in Switzerland until the end of this month to register under a voluntary repatriation programme. If they have not registered in time, they will be deported.