news 16 Feb 17

Kosovo Sends Serb Leader Ivanovic for Retrial

The case of Kosovo Serb political party leader Oliver Ivanovic, convicted of war crimes for ordering the murder of ethnic Albanians in Mitrovica in 1999, has been sent for retrial.

Die Morina
BIRN
Pristina
Oliver Ivanovic. Photo: Beta

The appeals court in Pristina said on Thursday that a decision had been made to retry Ivanovic, a former Serbian government official and head of a Kosovo Serb political party called Freedom, Democracy, Justice.

“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.

Ivanovic was found guilty last January of ordering the murder of nine ethnic Albanians in the town of Mitrovica on April 14, 1999 during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, 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.

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.

The authorities in Belgrade also expressed anger at his conviction.

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