Leading Serb politician in Kosovo shot dead

17 January, 2018, 02:02 | Author: Dustin Murphy
  • The arrest of Bogdan Mitrovic

This morning, Oliver Ivanovic, the leader of Serbian Citizens Initiative, was shot dead in the Northern part of Mitrovica, Kosovo.

Ivanovic, 64, was gunned down in front of his party office in Mitrovica, a town bitterly divided between ethnic Serbs and Albanians, shortly after 8 a.m. (0700 GMT).

Predominantly ethnic Albanian Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in February 2008 but Belgrade has rejected the move and still considers the breakaway territory as its southern province.

He had been facing a retrial after being convicted of war crimes and sentenced to nine years in prison. But 10 months later, the conviction was overturned and the case sent back for retrial.

Kosovo's Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, President Hashim Thaçi and parliamentary speaker Kadri Veseli are ex KLA commanders. Ivanovic was taken to a hospital, but doctors were unable to save him.

Vucic convened an emergency meeting of Serbia's Security Council in the wake of the assassination, and the head of the government office for Kosovo and Metohija, Marko Djuric said the Serb delegation was suspending technical dialogue with the Kosovo authorities in Brussels and returning to Belgrade.

It was "an attempt to push the Serbian people into chaos, to push Serbia into chaos", he added.

To remind, on January 16, a new round of talks launched in Brussels on normalization of the relations between Belgrade and Pristina. Because of his status as a moderate politician and accused war criminal, Ivanovic was a potential target for hardline Albanians and Serbs. Serbia does not recognize the split and EU-mediated talks have been underway in a bid to normalize ties.

Both Serbian and Kosovo Albanian officials refrained from explicitly accusing each other of being behind the killing as the worldwide community urged the two sides to remain calm.

"Why are the Albanians craving to take it away from us", Ivanovic said.

On Monday, Serbia's government said it will resume its talks for normalisation of relations with Kosovo this week after a suspension that had lasted for more than a year.

Ivanovic was a strong advocate of trying to reconcile the two nations and both sides now fear that his death will complicate efforts to soothe tensions.

Police arrested him in 2014 and two years later Ivanovic was convicted of war crimes by a panel of worldwide judges for ordering the murder of nine ethnic Albanians in April 1999.



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