Leading Kosovo Serb politician shot dead in Mitrovica

17 January, 2018, 02:14 | Author: Irene Delgado
  • Prominent Serb politician and suspected war criminal shot dead outside Kosovo office

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

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.

The doctors said Ivanovic had received at least five gunshot wounds to his upper torso.

Kosovo police said they had found a burned opel vehicle in norther Mitrovica after the shooting and they suspected the auto could be linked to shooting.

The Kosovo government, which includes former commanders of ethnic Albanian guerrillas who rose up against Belgrade's repressive rule in the late 1990s, also condemned the attack.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic called an emergency session of the country's National Security Council.

Kosovo president Hashim Thaci strongly denounced the killing, and called on law enforcement authorities "to throw light as soon as possible on the circumstances of the death so that the perpetrators are brought to justice".

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In 2016, Ivanović was found guilty of ordering crimes against the civilian population in 1999 during the Kosovo War. That verdict was overturned and a retrial had been under way.

Because of his status as a moderate politician and accused war criminal, Ivanovic was a potential target for hardline Albanians and Serbs.

Tensions between Kosovo's Albanian majority and Serb minority are becoming increasingly strained, especially in the divided town of Mitrovica, where Ivanovic lived.

Under pressure from the worldwide community and European Union auspices, Kosovo and Serbia have been trying to normalise ties some 20 years since the start of the bloody war that claimed 13,000 lives, mostly ethnic Albanians.

Ivanovic pledged to run on the Kosovo election in October 2017 despite the incident. But after a retrial was ordered he was released previous year and allowed to defend himself while free.

Ivanovic was considered a moderate who maintained relations with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and European Union officials after Serbia lost control of northern Kosovo following NATO's 1999 bombing to stop a deadly Serb crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists.

He had publicly spoken out against Belgrade's policies in Kosovo, which Serbia still claims as a province despite its independence declaration in 2008.

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