Ivanovic to remain in custody for 2 more months

KOSOVSKA MITROVICA -- A court in Kosovska Mitrovica on Thrusday decided to keep Oliver Ivanovic in custody for another two months.

(Beta, file)
(Beta, file)

The trial for crimes allegedly committed by the Serb political leader in Kosovo in 1999 and 2000 also resumed today.

Witness Faik Hiseni's testimony will mark the end of the prosecution's questioning of witnesses in relation to the events in Kosovska Mitrovica in April 1999, for which Ivanovic was indicted by an international prosecutor from EULEX.

Ivanovic's party, the Citizen Initiative SDP, told Tanjug on Thursday Ivanovic's custody had been extended by two months, that is until April 26, meaning that the requests to allow his release pending the end of the trial had been denied once again.

The international trial chamber will hear another 40 witnesses introduced by the prosecution after Hiseni, but they will talk about events from 2000.

Ivanovic is charged with acting in his capacity as chief of the so-called Bridge Watchers group (who protected north Kosovska Mitrovica from intrusion by Albanian extremists from the southern part of the city) and ordering the murder of four ethnic Albanians in the southern part of Kosovska Mitrovica on April 14, 1999 (during the armed conflict in Kosovo and NATO bombing of Serbia).

The SDP leader is also charged with being responsible for the murder of ten ethnic Albanians in the northern part of the city during the unrest on February 3, 2000, sparked off by an incident in which a bomb thrown into a cafe in north Mitrovica left 14 Serbs injured.

Ivanovic's case is linked to four other Serbs, Dragoljub Delibasic, father and son Ilija and Nebojsa Vujacic and Aleksandar Lazovic, who stand accused of murder and attempted murder.

All five indictees pleaded not guilty on all counts.

President Tomislav Nikolic on Wednesday called for all defendants to be released pending the outcome of the trial.