Leading Kosovo Serb politician shot dead

Jan 17, 2018, 02:03
Leading Kosovo Serb politician shot dead

European Union foreign relations chief Federica Mogherini also phoned Vucic and Kosovo president Hashim Thaci and pledged that the EU's rule of law mission in Kosovo, Eulex, would "support" the manhunt.

Kosovo unilaterally proclaimed independence from Serbia in February 2008 and has so far been recognised by 108 of the 193 United Nations members states.

A prominent Kosovo Serb politician, Oliver Ivanovic, was shot dead outside his party offices Tuesday morning, halting talks between Kosovar and Serb delegates that had been set to resume that day.

To remind, on January 16, a new round of talks launched in Brussels on normalization of the relations between Belgrade and Pristina. The southern province declared independence in 2008, which was never recognized by Belgrade.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic convened an urgent meeting of the National Security Council and said that his country will take all measures to find the killers. He declined to comment on whether he believed the killing was ethnically motivated.

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Ivanovic, 64, was fatally injured by an unidentified assailant in front of the office of his Citizens' Initiative Party, Serbian state television reported.

'He was taken to the hospital immediately, the doctors tried to revive him, but he could not be saved, ' lawyer Nebojsa Vlajic said. Serbian property was attacked, but the global community has shown no response to it.

Kosovo police said they had found a burned opel auto in norther Mitrovica after the shooting and they suspected the vehicle could be linked to shooting. They offered 10,000 euros ($12,225) to anyone with information that would resolve the case and provided a secure phone line. Kosovo police sealed off the area of the shooting while they searched for suspects.

The Kosovo authorities condemned the killing, saying it was a challenge to the rule of law in Kosovo.

Ivanović had been known as a moderate among Kosovo Serb politicians and had played a major role in negotiations with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the European Union after the 1998-1999 Kosovo War.

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He had been facing a retrial after being convicted of war crimes and sentenced to nine years in prison.

Tensions never fully faded but have become more apparent again since January a year ago, when Serbia sought the arrest and extradition of former Kosovo prime minister Ramush Haradinaj from France.

The news also prompted a Serbian delegation in Brussels to walk out of a meeting with Pristina representatives in Brussels on Tuesday, Serbian media reports.

Ivanovic came to prominence shortly after the war as one of the community leaders of Mitrovica Serbs known as the "bridge-watchers" who sought to prevent "infiltration" by Albanians over the Ibar River bridge into the northern half of the town.

The group later disbanded but many members moved into organised crime.

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It has also refused to implement a previous EU-brokered deal with Serbia to devolve power to an Association of Serb Municipalities (ASM) in Mitrovica and other Serb-majority zones. Serbia does not recognize the split and EU-mediated talks have been underway in a bid to normalize ties.