Ivanović, other accused Serbs plead not guilty

Oliver Ivanović has pleaded not guilty before the court of first instance in Kosovska Mitrovica on all counts of the indictment against him.

Source: Tanjug
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The Serb politician from northern Kosovo is accused of involvement in war crimes committed in 1999 and 2000.

"I am absolutely not guilty," he replied to judge Roxana Comsa.

The other four indicted Serbs, Dragoljub Delibašić, Ilija and Nebojša Vujačić, and Aleksandar Lazović also pleaded not guilty.

The court is holding the first hearing in the case against these five, who stand accused of war crimes and aggravated murder committed in 1999 and 2000.

Relatives of the accused, head of Serbian Government Office for Kosovo Marko Đurić, his associates, some mayors of Serb municipalities in northern Kosovo and a large number of reporters are at the hearing.

Jonathan Ratel and Romulo Mateus are the prosecutors, while the presiding judge is Roxana Comsa from Romania.

EULEX spokesperson Dragana Nikolic Solomon told reporters ahead of the hearing the accused would have 30 days after the hearing to submit written objections or requests to drop the indictment.

The trial will begin once a judge decides on the objections from the defendants, but there is also the possibility of the indictment being dropped.

Ivanović has been in custody since January 27, and the Kosovo Special Prosecution Office issued an indictment against him and four other Serbs on August 11.

Ivanović is charged with ordering the murder of four ethnic Albanians that occurred in Kosovska Mitrovica on April 14, 1999 (during the armed conflict in Kosovo and the NATO bombing of Serbia).

The GI SDP leader is also charged with inciting the killing of 10 ethnic Albanians in unrest on February 3, 2000, which broke out after a bomb was thrown into a club in North Mitrovica and had several Serbs wounded.

Former chief of police in Kosovska Mitrovica and retired Serbian Interior Ministry colonel Dragoljub Delibašić was arrested on February 4 and charged with inciting together with Ivanović co-perpetration of aggravated murder and attempted aggravated murder on February 3, 2000.

Ivanović and Delibašić are both in remand custody, and despite guarantees offered by the Serbian government that they will be available to judicial authorities at all times, they have not been released pending trial.

Father and son Ilija and Nebojša Vujačić and Aleksandar Lazović are charged with committing the crimes of aggravated murder and attempted aggravated murder on February 3, 2000.

Nebojsa Vujačić was arrested in mid-April and was in house detention until August 19, after which a judge of the Municipal Court in Kosovska Mitrovica placed him and also Lazovic, who had previously not been in detention, in remand custody for 30 days.

Only Ilija Vujačić has been released pending trial due to his old age, but his passport was taken away from him and he was ordered to report to a police station once a week and banned from approaching certain persons and witnesses.

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