news 22 Feb 17

Kosovo Serb Leader Ivanovic Put Under House Arrest

Kosovo Serb political party leader Oliver Ivanovic, who is awaiting retrial for alleged war crimes, was released from detention but placed under house arrest for two months.

Die Morina
BIRN
Pristina
Oliver Ivanovic in court. Photo: Beta

The Basic Court in North Mitrovica on Wednesday ruled that Oliver Ivanovic, a former Serbian government official and head of a Kosovo Serb political party called Freedom, Democracy, Justice, should be freed but held under house arrest for two months.

The decision came a week after Ivanovic’s guilty verdict was quashed and he was sent for retrial.

“I have the impression that justice is being delivered in spoonfuls and in parts, as the court didn’t have the courage to free Oliver Ivanovic completely,” his lawyer Nebojsa Vlajic told Serbian media.

Ivanovic’s wife Milena Popovic Ivanovic expressed satisfaction at the latest development.

“Today another big step has been taken towards eventual justice and freedom. After two months of house arrest, I expect Oliver to be released on bail,” Popovic Ivanovic said, according to a report by N1 TV.

“Finally the end of the farce that began more than three years ago is in sight,” she added.

Ivanovic had been convicted of war crimes for ordering the murder of ethnic Albanians in Mitrovica in 1999, when he was allegedly the leader of a paramilitary police unit.

The Albanians were killed by so-called ‘Bridge Watchers’ - Serb hardliners who patrolled the main bridge in Mitrovica that divides the town into Serb and Albanian sectors.

Ivanovic launched an appeal against his sentence in October last year.

The appeals court in Pristina decided on February 16 to retry him.

“The appeals of the defence counsels and by the defendant Oliver Ivanovic personally were partially granted in relation to the conviction for the criminal offence of war crimes against the civilian population,” the court said in a statement.

His lawyers claimed that criminal procedures were violated and the facts were wrongly established at his trial.

Ivanovic repeatedly claimed that his prosecution was politically motivated and went on hunger strike in protest several times during the trial.

Belgrade officials have also described the case against him as unjust and politically motivated.

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