News 18 Dec 14

Ivanovic Pleads Not Guilty to War Crimes

Oliver Ivanovic and four other defendants pleaded not guilty to war crimes in a trial that has opened in Mitrovica, northern Kosovo.

Behar Mustafa, Petrit Collaku
BIRN
Pristina

Under stricter security measures than usual, Ivanovic was brought on Thursday to the Mitrovica District Court where the prosecution read out the indictment against him and four others.

Ivanovic is accused of committing war crimes during the Kosovo conflict in April 1999. He is also charged - together with a former policeman, Dragoljub Delibasic - with committing murder in clashes that left ten ethnic Albanians dead and many more wounded in February 2000.

The allegations date from a time when he was an organiser of a now disbanded Kosovo Serb vigilante group in Mitrovica known as "Bridgewatchers".

“I am totally innocent and everything is written there is untrue,” Ivanovic told EU judge Roxana Komsa.

Ivanovic was arrested in January. He was the first senior Kosovo Serb official to be arrested by the European Union Rule of Law Mission, EULEX, on suspicion of war crimes against ethnic Albanians. A relative moderate in the Serbian political camp, his supporters insist the case against him is politically motivated.

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