March 10, 2016 / 3:58 PM / in 2 years

Kosovo buying body scanner to stop MPs taking teargas into parliament

PRISTINA (Reuters) - Kosovo’s government is buying a body scanner to try to stop opposition legislators smuggling teargas canisters into parliament and releasing them as they have done in every session for the past six months.

Opposition politicians release tear gas in parliament to obstruct a session in Pristina, Kosovo February 19, 2016. REUTERS/Agron Beqiri

In their latest protest against a 2015 EU-brokered deal with Serbia, opposition members of parliament on Thursday released two canisters, threw a glass of water at Prime Minister Isa Mustafa and aimed red lasers at the interior minister’s face.

With security measures so far having failed to stop the protests, the government plans to buy a new body scanner, of the type used at international airports to detect explosives.

Opposition members said it was “top secret” how they smuggled the canisters into parliament.

However, one police officer checking deputies at the building, speaking on condition of anonymity, said be believed they hide the canisters on their body, under their clothes.

He said the existing scanners did not necessarily detect the canisters - some of which easily fit in a pocket - because they were covered in plastic and rubber.

Police only say publicly they are investigating how the canisters are being taken into parliament.

The government said on Thursday the new scanner would cost around 270,000 euros ($300,000). Parliament has already had new ventilators installed on the roof to clear the gas.

The opposition has been protesting for months against the EU-brokered deal to give more power to a small Serb minority.

The agreement, which has yet to take effect following a critical judicial review by Kosovo’s highest court, has set off the worst political crisis in the country, whose population is 90 percent ethnic Albanian, since independence in 2008.

The opposition, which has been demanding the resignation of the government over the agreement, is call its supporters to protest on March 26.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, almost a decade after NATO air strikes drove out Serbian security forces accused of killing and expelling ethnic Albanian civilians during a counter-insurgency war.

Reporting by Fatos Bytyci; editing by Adrian Croft

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