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Kosovo Convicts Four Over Serb Opposition Politician’s Murder

kosovo convicts four over serb opposition politicians murder
kosovo convicts four over serb opposition politicians murder

Prishtina Basic Court found Nedeljko Spasojevic, Marko Rosic, Zarko Jovanovic and Dragisa Markovic guilty of involvement in the murder of Oliver Ivanovic, who was gunned down outside his party’s office in January 2018.

Prishtina Basic Court on Friday found four men guilty of involvement in the murder of the Kosovo Serb politician Oliver Ivanovic, an opponent of the Serbian government-backed Srpska Lista party, in North Mitrovica in January 2018.

Nedeljko Spasojevic was sentenced to four years and six months in prison for abusing official duties and fined 4,500 euros for illegal weapon possession.

Marko Rosic was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment and a 10,000-euros fine for “participation in or organisation of a criminal joint enterprise” related to the murder. He was remanded in custody after the announcement of the verdict.

Dragisa Markovic was found guilty of complicity in “abuse of official duty” and sentenced to four years imprisonment, but was found not guilty of revealing confidential information.

Zarko Jovanovic was found guilty of complicity in abuse of official duty and sentenced to four years imprisonment, and fined 1,500 euros for illegal possession of weapons.

If the accused do not pay the fines, “the court will replace the sentence to imprisonment calculating 20 euros for one day of imprisonment”, Judge Valon Kurtaj explained.

The verdict can be appealed.

Silvana Arsovic, a former secretary of Ivanovic’s, was found not guilty.

Rade Basara was also found not guilty after the prosecution dropped the case against him during closing statements on June 21. On Friday, prosecutor Burim Cerkini told the trial that, “in the absence of evidence about the accussed Rade Basara, we withdraw the criminal prosecution”.

The indictment accused Rosic, Arsovic, Spasojevic and Basara of being members of a joint criminal enterprise that organised the assassination of the moderate Kosovo Serb politician in North Mitrovica in January 2018.

Markovic and Jovanovic, both police officers, were accused of evidence-tampering. All the defendants had pleaded not guilty.

Once seen as a hardline nationalist, Ivanovic had evolved into a political moderate who advocated coexistence between Kosovo’s Serb minority and the country’s Albanian majority. Before his death, he had also become increasingly critical of the Belgrade government.

At the time of his death, he was being retried for ordering the murder of Kosovo Albanians during the war in Kosovo in 1999. He had pleaded not guilty.

The trial was marked by the reluctance of witnesses to name suspects, alteration of testimonies about organised criminal groups – seemingly out of fear of retaliation – and difficulties in bringing witnesses to court because of a lack of judicial collaboration with Serbia.

The indictment also named businessman Zvonko Veselinovic and Milan Radoicic, the former vice-president of Srpska Lista, as leaders of the organised criminal group that killed Ivanovic.

But Radoicic and Veselinovic have denied any wrongdoing and neither has been charged.

In October, Milan Mihajlovic, a Serb from the northern Kosovo town of Leposavic, who had been on the run since 2019, was also arrested for alleged involvement in the murder of Ivanovic, in a separate judicial process.

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